Rhapis excelsa grows up to 4 m in height and 30 mm in diameter in multi-stemmed clumps with glossy, palmate evergreen leaves divided into broad, ribbed segments. Leaf segments are single or few in young plants and increase to a dozen or more in mature plants; segments are divided to the petiole. Leaf-ends are saw-toothed unlike most other palms, occurring on slender petioles ranging from 20 to 60 cm in length. New foliage emerges from a fibrous sheath which remains attached to the base. As the plants age, the sheaths fall, revealing the bamboo-like trunks. This usually dioecious palm species produces a small inflorescence at the top of the plant with spirally-arranged, fleshy yellow flowers containing three petals fused at the base. Ripe fruit are fleshy and white, though R. excelsa more readily propagates via underground rhizome offshoots.