Plants erect, shrubby. Stems simple or sometimes branched, 1--3 m × 1--3 cm. Leaves petiolate; petiole 10--30 cm, channeled adaxially, base dilated, clasping stem and other petiole bases; leaf blade green or variously colored, oblong-lanceolate, elliptic-lanceolate, or narrowly oblong, 25--50 × 5--10 cm, midvein distinct and raised abaxially, apex aristate. Panicle 30--60 cm; branches spreading, 6--13 cm, many flowered. Flowers subsessile or shortly pedicellate; pedicel (if distinct) to 4 mm, subtended by 3 bracteoles; bracteoles ovate, 2--3 mm, margin broadly membranous, apex cuspidate. Perianth reddish, yellowish, or bluish purple; tube 5--6 mm; lobes erect or recurved, nearly as long as tube. Stamens inserted in throat of perianth, scarcely exserted. Fruit reddish, several seeded. Fl. Nov--Mar.
Root: Surinamese Indonesians use pieces of root in vinegar for a preparation against bleeding. Leaf: An infusion in oil is used to treat wounds. Infusion of three crushed leaves of the purple cultivar is used in hypotensive drink. Proximal (lower) portion of leaf is macerated in olive oil for a cataplasm or tampon for wounds.