One of the most characteristic species of the genus, easily recognized by its large flowers with very long filaments and styles. The perianth is usually bi-coloured in contrasting tones of white or rose-pink and deep-purple or maroon. The filaments are slender, usually white-coloured, sometimes rosy, and only occasionally purple-tipped. The undulate character of the leaves is taxonomically virtually useless, since entirely flat-leaved single specimens, or even whole populations, are by no means uncommon. The nectary margin also varies in shape. It is often more or less straight (like in O. vulgare) but not seldom prolonged into a short tongue, which may be entire, emarginate or bilobed. Similar tongue-like projections of the nectary margin also occur in two other species, viz. O. gracile and O. calcicola.
Cormous geophyte, 50-200 mm tall. Leaves 2-4, lanceolate, smooth or undulate. Flowers nodding, zygomorphic-asymmetric, white to pink with purple or maroon tips, fragrant, tepals 16-30 mm long, nectary narrowly pouch-like with upper margin sometimes tongue-like; filaments filiform or slightly swollen, 15-25 mm long.
Cormous geophyte, 5-20 cm. Leaves lanceolate, margins sometimes crisped. Flowers nodding, zygomorphic, white to pink with purple or maroon tips, filaments filiform, 15-25 mm long.
Corm ovoid, simple, 2-5 cm long, 1-4 cm wide, with several layers of brown, rather firm tunics, apically protracted into a many-layered neck 5-15(-20) cm long. Cataphyll present, but often concealed by the neck. Stem above-ground part 5-20 cm high, simple. Leaves 2-4, lanceolate, (3-)5-15 cm long, (0.6-)0.8-2.5 cm wide near the base, tapering somewhat abruptly to a mucronate tip, with flat or crisped-undulate margins, glaucous green. Raceme usually short and few-flowered (with 1-5, rarely up to 10 flowers), often somewhat corymb-like, usually slightly overtopping the leaves. Bracts linear-lanceolate, ca. 1-3 cm long, uppermost successively smaller, lowermost one(s) larger and more leaf-like. Perianth 3-4 cm in diam., asymmetric with 1 or 2 tepals ± straight (pointing downwards), the others erect-recurved at anthesis (pointing upwards), all becoming ± reflexed after anthesis. Tepals 16-30 mm long; claw distinct, 2-5 mm long, flattened-subcylindric, broadly canaliculate adaxially; blade linear-lanceolate, 15-25 mm long, 2-4 mm wide below the middle but margins usually involute, especially towards the apex, 8-10-veined, adaxially creamy-white or pale-pink with purple or maroon tips and sometimes with a purplish blotch near the base, abaxially dull-purplish to dull-brownish. Nectary margin truncate or emarginate or prolonged into a short (1-2 mm long), tongue-like, entire or bifid, lobe. Filaments 15-25 mm long, almost as long as the tepals, filiform, slightly thickened below the middle (0.5-1 mm thick or slightly more), creamy-white to rose-coloured, seldom apically purplish. Anthers narrowly oblong, 3-5.5 mm long, olive-green or brownish. Styles 15-25 mm long, spreading, flexuous, white or yellowish. Ovary rounded-oblong, green. Capsule oblong, subglobose or pyriform, 1.5-2.5 cm long, 1-1.8 cm broad. Seeds globose or subglobose, 2.5-4 mm in diam., dark-brown to chocolate-brown, smooth or slightly tartareous (at high magnification 'micro-colliculate'), sometimes slightly glossy, with a narrowly winged or keeled raphe and sometimes a beak-like projecting chalaza.
Southern Namibia through central and eastern Namaqualand to Tanqua Karoo and to Somerset East.