This plant is an evergreen tropical perennial that grows in upright clumps to 8-10' tall. It produces fleshy rhizomes much like ginger that have a ginger-like aroma. Shellflower is commonly called shell ginger or shellflower because its individual shell pink flowers, particularly when in bud, resemble sea shells.
It is distinguished from other members of the ginger family by the fact that its flowers droop from the ends of leafy stems rather than rise directly from plant rhizomes. The fragrant flowers are waxy; light pink flower buds open to tubular flowers with yellow inside lips and red throats. The plant produces lance-shaped green leaves to 2' long and 5" wide.