Species of Scadoxus grow from bulbs or rhizomes. Bulbous species usually also have distinct rhizomes. Particularly in the non-bulbous species, the petioles (leaf stalks) overlap to produce a false stem or pseudostem, which may be purple-spotted. The leaf blades are lanceolate to ovate with a thickened midrib. The leafless flowering stem (scape) is also sometimes purple-spotted, and either appears from among the leaves or pushes through the side of the pseudostem.

The flowers are borne at the top of the scape in the form of a many-flowered umbel. Four or more bracts are present under the umbel at first. In some species, such as Scadoxus membranaceus, these bracts persist during flowering; in other species they wither before the flowers are fully open. Individual flowers have six red to pink tepals, joined at the base to form a tube. In most species, the flowers are more-or-less upright, although in Scadoxus cyrtanthiflorus the open flowers droop and in Scadoxus nutans the top of the scape bends over so that the flowers face downwards. The filaments of the stamens arise from the base of the tepals and may be flattened. The fruit takes the form of a globose berry, orange to red when ripe.
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