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A large shrub to tree, growing up to around 10 metres (often seen much smaller) sometimes multi-trunked.
It is found naturally in NSW and Queensland, along the coast and tablelands-fringes. It grows as far south as Batemans Bay-Ulladulla, as far west as Katoomba-Lithgow and extends up the coast, in disjunct patches, to around Lismore.
It is found often in dry sclerophyll to wet sclerophyll gully forest, as well as coastal heathlands and shrublands; almost always on sandstone or sandy-soils. Very common in Hawkesbury Sandstone gullies around Sydney.
The bark is grey-brown on young stems and ages on older stems to fissured-grey-brown, sometimes with lichen.
Ceratopetalum spp. are considered to have compound leaves, arranged in an opposite fashion. In this species, leaves are trifoliolate (with 3 leaflets). The leaves overall are to 10 cm long by 4 cm wide; leaflets are dark green above, paler below, with distinctly shallow-toothed margins, lanceolate to ovate, to 8 cm long and 3 cm wide, sharing a common petiole to 20 mm long.
Ceratopetalum spp. have flowers arranged in terminal cyme-like clusters. The 4 to 5 sepals are the main part of the flower with the 4 to 5 petals very small or absent. In this species, inflorescences are to 10 cm long by up to 10 cm wide with flowers with 5 conspicuous sepals arranged in a star-shape; sepals are initially about 3 mm long; white-cream in colour, and enlarging and changing to red, to 12 mm long as the fruit develops in the centre of the flower. Petals stay at 3 mm long and are very thin; flowers typically produced in November-December and turn red and are shed in February.
The fruit is a nut, 1-seeded and not overly large.