Ornithoglossum undulatum is a cormous perennial growing to 20 cm. Descriptive common names for this plant include snake lily or poison onion; in Afrikaans slangkop (snake head). Two to four channelled blue-grey leaves of up to 10 cm in length clasp the stem. Ornithoglossum leaves are poisonous, known to cause stock losses. The leaves in this picture taper smoothly and elegantly to sharp tips. They have entire margins that curve neatly upwards, forming a boat-shape.
The specific epithet undulatum relates to the better known wavy or undulating leaf form of the species. The curved leaves of the alternative form may close more, bringing their margins together as well as recurving towards the leaf tips.
This plant belongs to a small genus of 8 southern African and tropical African species that form part of the Colchicaceae family.
The distribution of the species is large. It grows in southern Namibia, the Richtersveld, Namaqualand, the Karoo and Little Karoo, as well as in the Eastern Cape. The habitat is rocky granite and sandstone slopes (Vlok and Schutte-Vlok, 2010; Bond and Goldblatt, 1984; Shearing and Van Heerden, 2008).