The tree is an evergreen (stays green all year long). It grows up to 25 feet (7.6 metres) high. It has groups of small white flowers. It grows best in subtropical (wet and always warm) climates. It needs well-drained soil (water can flow away easily) and 40 to 100 inches (1,000 to 2,500 mm) of rain a year.
The nutmeat (the soft part inside the shell that can be eaten) is mostly a creamy white color. Sometimes it looks a bit yellow. It has a flavor that many people like. Macadamias are eaten roasted (cooked) by themselves. They are used in cookies, cakes, pastries, and candies. People use them like almonds and cashews as part of cooked meals. This is an Oriental style of cooking.
The first commercial orchard was started in Australia in the late 1880s. Commercial production started in Hawaii during the 1920s. Production later spread to California, Mexico, and other places with warm climate.