This plant has been a troublesome one for botanists to classify; but the term Symplocarpus is now generally preferred. It is perennial, having a large, abrupt root, or tuber, with numerous crowded, fleshy fibres, which extend some distance into the ground. The spathe appears before the leaves, is ovate, spotted, and striped, purple and yellowish-green, the edges folded inward, and at length coalescing. The flowers are numerous, of a dull purple within the spathe, on a short, oval spadix. Calyx consists of four fleshy, wedge-shaped sepals; corolla, none; stamens, four; seeds round and fleshy, and about as large as a pea.