Tulbaghia violacea is a fast-growing, bulbous plant that reaches a height of 0.5 m. The leaves are long, narrow, strap-like, slightly fleshy and smell strongly of garlic when bruised. They grow from fat, tuberous roots which spread to form clumps of plants. The pinkish mauve, tubular flowers, clustered into umbels of up to twenty flowers, are held above the leaves on a tall flower stalk, and appear over a long period in summer (January to April). They too smell of garlic when picked. The fruit, triangular capsules, are grouped into a head, and when ripe they split to release the flattened, hard black seeds.