It is found only in the north of the North Island, to Kawhia on the west and East Cape on the east.
A tree up to 20m high, although in a garden situation its height would be limited to 6-9m, it has a classically pyramidal shape with striking tiers of branches that over time change to form a spreading canopy. Its leaves are 10cm long by 4cm wide, and a dark olive-green with bronze tomentum on new growth. It has insignificant flowers, which produce large purple drupes that are much loved by wood pigeons.
Tarairi likes a good moist, free-draining soil. Although it tolerates shade, its form is fuller if grown in full sun. It will only tolerate a light frost, and is best provided with a wind break when young. Highly suitable as a specimen tree in the garden or in a mixed planting of native trees if there is a large enough area.