These are evergreen perennials with stems growing erect or decumbent and creeping. Stems that grow along the ground may root at the nodes. There is generally a crown of wide leaf blades which in wild species are often variegated with silver and green coloration. The inflorescence bears unisexual flowers in a spadix, with a short zone of female flowers near the base and a wider zone of male flowers nearer the tip. The fruit is a fleshy berry that ripens red. The fruit is a thin layer covering one large seed. Plants of the genus are native to humid, shady tropical forest habitat.