Paracephaelis is characterized by its woody habit; interpetiolar triangular stipules; petiolate leaves that are often pubescent; terminal, shortly cymose, rounded, sessile to shortly pedunculate inflorescences; bisexual homostylous flowers; the short calyx with a short tubular portion and 5 triangular lobes; salverform to funnelform corollas with the 5 lobes contorted in bud; the ovary 2-locular, with 3-4 ovules in each locule; and berry-like fruits with the seeds reniform, somewhat flattened, and with entire endosperm.
De Block (2003) noted that this genus is closely related to Homolliella and Homollea, although the species of Homollea do not have a very similar general aspect to the species of those genera. Homollea differs in its generally unbranched inflorescences borne on well developed peduncles and its long narrow calyx lobes; Homolliella differs in its well developed tubular calyx with the lobes shorter than the tube and often longer flowers. Some species of Paracephaelis are similar in general aspect to Schizenterospermum, but that last genus has the corolla lobes valvate in bud. Paracephaelis is also similar to Tarenna, but Tarenna generally has glabrous, often tough-textured leaves and inflorescences with fewer larger flowers.
The fourth species of this genus, Paracephalis trichantha (Baker) De Block, is found in coastal East Africa, in Aldabra, and in the Comores but has not been formally documented in Madagascar.