The oyster plant is a perennial herb with a short, stout stem nearly hidden by overlapping leaf bases. It forms clumps by offshoots from fleshy rootstock. The leaves closely overlap in a spiral pattern. Blades are broadly linear, sharp-tipped, waxy, stiff, and somewhat fleshy. The upper surface is dark green or green with pale yellow stripes; lower surfaces are usually purple. The oyster plant has small, white, clustered flowers within a folded, boat-shaped bract.