Small to moderate herbs. Stem pleionanthic, epigeal, erect to decumbent. Leaves few to many, often clustering terminally on the shoot, innovations generally pink; petiole usually glabrous, sometimes minutely puberulent, leaf sheath fully attached, tapering, persistent to slowly degrading in the marginal distal part; leaf blade oblanceolate to ovate-sagittate, sometimes variegated, glabrous adaxially and abaxially, basally cuneate to sagittate, apex acute to long acuminate; primary and secondary venation bipinnate, tertiary venation obscure. Inflorescence solitary or to 5 in a synflorescence; spathe long, to 20 cm; lower spathe, ovoid, differentiated from the spathe limb with a gradual or abrupt constriction; spathe limb oblong-lanceolate, upper spathe persistent until well after anthesis, then deliquescing, opening only slightly, the distal portion remaining convolute, with only the ventral part of the staminate flower zone exposed; spadix equalling or shorter than spathe; pistillate flower zone more or less cylindrical, obliquely inserted to adnate for up to ½ of its length; pistils globose, sessile; interpistillar staminodes present or absent; interstice prominent, mostly naked with a few groups of small, more or less sessile staminodes; staminate flower zone cylindrical to slightly tapering, the lower part corresponding with the spathe constriction; stamens crowded, dumbbell-shaped to irregular; appendix present; fruiting spathe urceolate, declinate. Fruits and seeds not seen.
Apoballis is defined by the deciduous leaf sheath, pistillate and staminate flower zones separated by a prominent naked interstice interspersed sparsely with staminodes, and a spathe that hardly opens, and is semipersistent into fruiting. Further, all species so far investigated have spiny pollen (smooth in Schismatoglottis and all other Schismatoglottideae). Apoballis produces a floral odour reminiscent of benzaldehyde (almond oil), contrasting to Schismatoglottis (methyl esterase). This, together with the differences in spadix arrangement and spathe mechanics, suggests pollinator differences.