Chrysobalanus icaco is a shrub 1–3 metres (3.3–9.8 ft), or bushy tree 2–6 metres (6.6–20 ft), rarely to 10 metres (33 ft). It has evergreen broad-oval to nearly round somewhat leathery leaves (3 to 10 cm long and 2.5 to 7 cm wide). Leaf colors range from green to light red. The bark is greyish or reddish brown, with white specks.
The flowers are small, white, in clusters, appearing in late spring. In late summer it bears fruit in clusters, that of the coastal form being round, up to 5 cm in diameter, pale-yellow with rose blush or dark-purple in color, while that of the inland form is oval, up to 2.5 cm long, and dark-purple.
The coastal form is highly tolerant of salt, so it is often planted to stabilize beach edges and prevent erosion.
Chrysobalanus icaco is also planted as an ornamental shrub. The tree is unable to survive a hard frost. The fruit is edible with a mildly sweet flavor and is sometimes used for jam. The common name for this fruit in Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana is "fat pork".