Perennial, rhizomatous herbs. Rhizome irregular, bright red. Leaves linear, entire, plicate, glabrous to hirsute, annual or perennial. Scape erect, 0.1–2.5 m high. Inflorescence a lax branching to dense cylindrical panicle. Flowers zygomorphic; tepals ± yellow, in 2 subequal whorls, lower 3 free, upper 3 fused at base; stamens 3, free, the lowest turning sideways opposite the style; ovary superior, densely pubescent; ovules 1 per locule; style bent sideways. Fruit a 3-lobed capsule.
4 species endemic to the Cape region of South Africa, 1 species naturalised in Victoria.
Wachendorfia is one of only a few genera to display enantiomorphy (left- and right-handed flowers ie. plants may have the style and single stamen either facing to the left or right). This is thought to be a mechanism to increase outcrossing (Helme & Linder 1992).