Moraea papilionacea grows a flowering stem up to 20 cm tall. The flowers may be yellow, cream or salmon and even have different colours on the erect style-branches. The outer tepals are up to 2,5 cm long with black-fringed, yellow, rounded nectar guides. The inner ones are smaller and lance-shaped. The broad style-branches have lanceolate crests, up to 1,5 cm long.
The specific name, papilionacea, is a Latin word meaning butterfly-like. Flowering happens from late winter to after mid-spring. A flower lasts for up to one day (Curtis-Scott, et al, 2020; Manning, 2007; Bond and Goldblatt, 1984; iNaturalist).