Gloriosa superba is a species of flowering plant in the family Colchicaceae. This species is a perennial herb growing from a fleshy rhizome. It is scandent, climbing using tendrils, the stem reaching 4 meters long. The leaves are mainly alternately arranged, but they may be opposite, as well. They are somewhat lance-shaped and tipped with tendrils, and they are up 13 to 20 centimeters long. The showy flower has six tepals each up to 5 to 7.6 centimeters long. They are generally bright red to orange at maturity, sometimes with yellowish bases. The margins may be quite wavy. The six stamens also are long, up to 4 centimeters, and each bears a large anther at the tip that drops large amounts of yellow pollen. The style may be more than 6 centimeters long. One flower may weigh over 2.5 grams. The fruit is a fleshy capsule up to 6 to 12 centimeters long containing red seeds. Cultivars of this popular garden plant may vary from these wild-type characteristics; the cultivar 'Lutea' has all-yellow tepals, 'Citrina' is yellow with red markings, and 'Nana' is a dwarf. Whitish forms are known, as well.
The plant likely is pollinated by butterflies and sunbirds. It grows in many types of habitat, including tropical jungles, forests, thickets, woodlands, grasslands, and sand dunes. It can grow in nutrient-poor soils. It can be found at as high as 2500 meters in elevation.