Small, almost stemless palm; stems prostrate, scarcely rising above ground, with leaves to 5-8 m long; leaflets 60-90 on each side of rachis; inflorescences 3-5, curved and arising from the ground, to 1.5 m long or more; fruits ellipsoid to turbinate, 3.5-7.5 cm long and 2.5-3.5 cm in diameter, covered by dark reddish-brown scales. A particular vegetative character that can be observed in this species is the presence of conspicuous filaments of yellowish-reddish brown wax along the lower mid rib of the leaflets.
This palm is distributed in the Cameroon Range and associated outlying plateau along the Nigerian border. According to Otedoh (1982) this species also grows north-eastwards through the Central African Republic to South-West Soudan.
Raphia mambillensis is a montane species, probably native to stream sides and wet hollows on the 1500 m erosion surface. This palm was reported by Darbyshire & Cheek (2004) and Baker (2010) growing up to 1570-1633 m in North-West Cameroon.