The snowy orchid is a slender, erect, 1-stemmed plant that grows up to 3 feet tall. It has 2 or 3 leaves near the bottom, 4–12 inches long. The flower clusters are cylindrical, 4–5 inches long at the end of the stem and very compact, blooming from the bottom upward. Flowers are white, with 3 petals, the narrow lip at the top. The slender spur is conspicuous, 3/4 inch long, extending to the side and curving upward.
The Snowy Orchid is a member of the orchid family (family Orchidaceae). Orchids are perennial herbs with complicated, unusual and often beautiful flowers borne singly or in spikes, racemes, or branched clusters. This is the largest family of flowering plants in terms of numbers of species, but rarely, if ever, is it dominant. The 600-700 genera and 20,000 species are most abundant in the tropics, where they most frequently grow upon other vegetation. Elsewhere they are usually terrestrial. Vanilla is obtained from the fruits of the tropical genus Vanilla, and many species are grown as beautiful greenhouse novelties. Certain species and hybrids, once very rare and difficult to acquire, are now reproduced in great numbers by cloning. The elaborate flower has highly specialized relationships with pollinators. Pollen is usually held together in masses and in many cases must be properly positioned on the insect for pollination of another flower to occur.