This species belongs to Subg. Tetrandrae. It is morphologically variable; the plants found in mangrove forests may be better separated taxonomically but no consistently different morphological features have yet been found to separate them. This species is variable in leaf and flower size, and is similar to Hillia maxonii and H. panamensis; these are provisionally separated here pending further study.
Wet lowland, coastal (mangrove), premontane, and montane forests, 0-2400 m, Nicaragua to western Ecuador.