Alahe'e is a tree or shrub in the coffee family. The leaves are glossy green above, elliptical in shape, and about 3.5 in long. The flowers grow in clusters and are small, white, and fragrant.The fruits are dark purple to glossy black when ripe, round, and less than an inch in diameter. Fruits ripen in the late fall and winter. This tree/shrub is drought tolerant and is often found growing in dry shrublands and dry to moist forests.
The name Alahe'e means "slippery like the octopus" in Hawaiian. The wood of this tree/shrub is very hard and was used to make many items including spears that were used for hunting octopus, adzes, and fishing hooks. The leaves have been used to make a black dye. The seeds of alahe'e are often attacked by the Objurgatella moth (Orneodes objurgatella).