This plant is a shrub or tree growing up to 10 meters (33 feet)tall.
The trunk is swollen, with peeling red-tinged bark. The leaves are pinnate, each made up of 5 to 11 leaflets.
The flowers are borne singly or in clusters at the ends of branches and are white, sometimes with a yellow or greenish tint. The gray-brown triangular fruit is about 6 millimeters long and splits open when ripe to release a reddish seed.
This plant grows in the scrub of the Sonoran Desert. Farther south in Mexico it can be found in arroyos in subtropical scrub habitat. It is found in shallow soils and rocky substrates, often limestone.