It is a hardy forest specimen which grows quickly to five metres at ten years, up to a maximum of 10 metres. Riparian by choice of habitat, Hungere is generally a lowland forest species with a preference for the fertile alluvial soils on swamp edges and stream banks. Entirely absent north of Taranaki, this tree can be found throughout the remainder of the country. It is robust in all natural habitats, growing on most soils, tolerating drought, wind, and severe frost. As a juvenile, H. angustifolia is a dense unruly shrub with fine rust-coloured branches that tangle with one another. As it develops towards adulthood a single straight trunk forms, and the leaves change their appearance.
The mature foliage is constituted of small mid-green, sharply serrated leaves which create an overall slender, vaguely billowed shape. Flowering is prolific and only occurs once the tree has matured and left its divaricated juvenile form behind. It usually begins in January and continues to March, changing the colour of the tree as the tiny white flowers compete for visibility with the foliage. Fruit develops between February and April in the form of dehiscent (characterised by splitting or bursting open) pods which ripen and split into five winged sections, each carrying a seed.
The fishnet-like multi-layered internal bark of Hungere was used for delicately ornate weaving for such items as kete, headbands, and hat and cloak trims. When twisted and plaited, it made useful ropes and cord.