Lama is a tree or shrub that grow to 35 ft in height. The leaves are oval shaped up to 3.5 in long. They start out pinkish in color and turn green, thick and leathery as they mature. The flowers are small, greenish-white to pink, and grow in the leaf axils. Lama trees bloom year round. The flowers eventually become small, oval fruits that turn yellow to red as they ripen.
Lama trees have very strong wood that has been used to make fish traps. The name lama means "enlightenment" and the wood has also been used to make many religious items such as rafters and posts for temples. The sapwood of lama is white and the heartwood is red to reddish-brown. Lama trees are found in lava fields and dry to moist forests. It is endemic to Hawaii.