E. orbiculate is a well-branched shrub or small tree that can be between 3 and 6 meters in height. The small branches are red and rather puberulent (covered with minute soft erect hairs) at the juvenile stage and turn smooth at later stages. The oval, elliptical leaves are rounded at the tip, bright above and pale greyish green below. The flowers are solitary and found at the axil of bracts. In general, 1-2 pairs are present at the basal part of the foliate branches. The petals are subcircular, white and ciliated having numerous stamens. The fruit is a globular berry, reaching 10 mm in diameter. Normally 3-8 seeds are produced.
Eugenia orbiculata is endemic to Mauritius and is found in intermediate forests and form part of the undergrowth plant community. The plants are pollinated by birds, flies and geckos and produce many fruits, the seeds are dispersed by birds.
This species is ranked 'Endangered' on the IUCN Red List. seedlings of this species can be observed in different regions following forest restoration projects. The population remains in decline due to habitat loss and the invasion of exotic species.
Several hypotheses have been put forward concerning the vernacular name of the nail wood. The structure of the young flowers can be reminiscent of nails on wood, or its wood was used in carpentry ...The first sample of this plant was collected by Philibert Commerson in 1789.