It is a small tree or shrub with a single trunk, growing up to 5 m in height. It is native to the tropical forests of South America, and is found in the Amazon basin and the Guianas. It prefers moist, shady habitats.
Rapatea muaju is used as an ornamental plant in gardens and is also used as a source of food for livestock, its flowers are white and bell-shaped, and the seeds are small and black. The seedlings are small and spindly.