Guilandina bonduc grows as a climber, up to 8 m (30 ft) long or as a large sprawling shrub or small shrubby tree. The stems are irregularly covered with curved prickles. The leaves are large and bi-pinnate, up to 40 cm (16 in) long with scattered prickles on the rachises and blades. There are four to eleven pairs of pinnae, 5 to 20 cm (2 to 8 in) long with five to ten pairs of pinnules. The pinnules are 15 to 40 mm (0.6 to 1.6 in) long, elliptic, oblong or ovate with acute tips and entire margins. The inflorescence is an axillary raceme, often branched, covered with short hairs and up to 15 cm (6 in) long. The jointed pedicels are up to 6 mm (0.2 in) long. The sepals are shorter than the petals which are around 10 mm (0.4 in) long; the petals are yellow, sometimes with a spot of orange near the base of the keel. The flowers are followed by large, flattish, spiny green pods which later turn brown, some 9 by 4 cm (4 by 2 in), containing one or usually two, glossy, rounded, grey seeds.