HABIT : seasonally dormant or evergreen herbs, stem tuberous, subglobose. LEAVES : several. PETIOLE : sheath distinct. BLADE : usually peltate, sometimes not (C. lindenii), often variegated, cordate-sagittate or sagittate, rarely trisect (C. ternatum); basal ribs well-developed, primary lateral veins pinnate, forming submarginal collective vein, 1-2 marginal veins also present, secondary and tertiary laterals arising from the primaries at a wide angle, forming interprimary collective vein, higher order venation reticulate. INFLORESCENCE : 1-2 in each floral sympodium, appearing with or before leaves. PEDUNCLE : rather long, often as long as petiole. SPATHE : constricted, tube with convolute margins, usually ventricose-globose, persistent, green, eventually splitting in fruit, blade white, boat-shaped, gaping, marcescent after anthesis and deciduous. SPADIX : a little shorter than spathe, stipitate, densely flowered, female zone cylindric-conoid or ellipsoid, separated from male by longer, subconic to attenuate, basally thicker zone of sterile male flowers, male zone fertile to apex, subcylindric to subclavate, more than twice as long as female zone. FLOWERS : unisexual, perigone absent. MALE FLOWER : 3-5-androus, stamens connate into obpyramidal, truncate to ± convex, sinuously subhexagonal synandrium, common connective thick, thecae lateral, extending nearly to base of synandrium, oblong-lanceolate, dehiscing by short apical slit. POLLEN : extruded in strands, shed in monads, inaperturate, spherical to subspheroidal, medium-sized (mean 41 µm., range 38-43 µm.), exine psilate or obscurely dimpled or verruculate. STERILE MALE FLOWERS : synandrodes depressed-obpyramidal, compressed, truncate, lowermost larger and prismatic, uppermost narrow and elongated. FEMALE FLOWER : gynoecium cylindric to obconic, ovary 1-2(-3)-locular, ovules 1-20, anatropous, funicle short, placentae subbasal, pseudoaxile or parietal, stylar region free or rarely coherent (C. paradoxum), as broad as ovary or broader in obconic gynoecia, stigma nearly as wide as ovary. BERRY : 1-many-seeded (C. ternatum usually 1- seeded), white. SEED : ovoid to ellipsoid, raphe somewhat prominent, integument succulent, testa thick, longitudinally costate, costae angled, embryo axile, elongate, endosperm copious.
Tuberous geophytes; leaves usually peltate, blade often variegated, cordate-sagittate, sagittate or rarely trisect, fine venation reticulate, inframarginal collective vein present; spathe strongly constricted, blade withering immediately after anthesis, tube persistent; spadix fertile to apex; flowers unisexual, perigone absent; male flowers forming a truncate synandrium, pollen shed in monads. Differs from Scaphispatha in spathe tube always convolute at anthesis, well developed sterile flowers between male and female zones, stylar region as broad as ovary (Caladium paradoxum has discoid, coherent stylar regions), placentas 1-2 (-3), parietal to subbasal.