Schizolobium excelsum is unarmed, with a cylindrical bole, high buttresses and a wide spreading, open crown. Leaves bipinnate, large; pinnae 15-20 pairs, fernlike; leaflets small, elliptic, 10-20 pairs, stipules absent. Flowers golden yellow, large, profusely produced in axillary semi-erect racemes or terminal panicles; bracts minute; bracteoles absent; calyx tube obliquely turbinate; lobes 5, overlapping, reflexed at flowering; petals 5, clawed, subequal, overlapping, uppermost petal innermost; stamens 10, free, subdeclinate; filaments villous, basally rough; anthers uniform, longitudinally dehiscent; ovary subsessile affixed to 1 side of calyx tube, many-ovuled, style filiform; stigma minute, terminal. Pod flat, spoon or tear-drop shaped, exocarp firm, leathery, tardily dehiscent. Seed large, oblong, compressed, located near apex. The genus Schizolobium has 4-5 members. The generic name is derived from the Greek verb schizo, “divide” and lobion, “pod”; the inner and outer layers of the pod separate at maturity, whereas the specific epithet is after the Parahyba River in Brazil.