Growing to 75 cm (30 in) tall by 30 cm (12 in) broad, it is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial with pendent leaves which are hairy on the undersides. It blooms in mid- to late spring, producing large yellow, solitary or paired, bell-shaped, pendent flowers. The top parts of the plant tend to bend downward due to the weight of the leaves and flowers. The light green stems are round, glabrous, and glaucous and the leaves are perfoliate since the stem appears to come through the leaves at the base. In late summer three capsuled ovaries split open releasing seeds that have attached food bodies called (elaiosome) which are attractive to ants that collect and redistribution the seeds.
This plant differs from Uvularia sessilifolia in that the leaves of the latter grow from the stem and its flowers are smaller. U. grandiflora also differs from Uvularia perfoliata, which occurs in eastern North America. The latter has similar large perfoliate leaves, but the flowers have orange-colored bumps on the petals.