This species is characterized by its somewhat robuts habit; its elliptic leaves with few to several secondary veins and the apex acuminate; its short to developed stipule awns; its subsessile, several-flowered, cymose inflorescences; its flower buds that are obtuse to rounded at the apex; and its medium-sized to large (for Tricalysia) fruits. Ranrivelo-Randriamoavonjy et al. (2007) separated two subspecies, Tricalysia ambrensis subsp. ambrensis from extreme northern Madagascar with papery leaves with several spreading secondary leaf veins, and Tricalysia ambrensis subsp. coriacea from a little further south with rather leathery leaves with few, arching secondary leaf veins. In Tricalysia ambrensis subsp. coricea the secondary leaf veins frequently extend for half or more the length of the blade. This subspecies is similar to Tricalysia leucocarpa, with the inflorescences subcapitate and flower buds that are acumianteat the apex; both of these often dry with a markedly pale color. Tricalysia ambrensis subsp. ambrensis is similar to Tricalysia humbertii, with 4-merous flowers vs. 5-6-merous in Tricalysia ambrensis.