'Mandela's Gold' is a stemless, evergreen clump-forming perennial. Greyish green, banana-like leaves grow to a height of about 1.5 m and during winter and spring the large bird-like flowers are held above the foliage on the tips of long, sturdy stalks. The structure and pollination of the flowers is fascinating. The hard, beak-like sheath from which the flower emerges, is called the spathe. This is held at right angles to the stem, and has the appearance of a bird's head.
Each spathe contains 4 to 6 flowers, and these emerge one at a time from the spathe. Each flower consists of 3 clear yellow sepals and 3 deep purple petals. The yellow sepals give the appearance of a crest on the 'bird's' head. Two of the purple petals are joined together around the stamens and the style to form an arrow-like structure. The third purple petal is visible as a small scale.