Gethyllis, like most other plants adapted to temperate climates, is deciduous. Nourished by long, fleshy roots, the bulbs store sufficient reserves to survive the long, dry season in a dormant state but when conditions become favourable they produce leaves. The sheaths themselves are often attractively ornamented with handsome reddish brown spots (e.g. G. britteniana) or they are elaborately fringed, as in G. verticillata. Unlike most Amaryllidaceae, the leaves of Gethyllis are often hairy. The hairs are simple and evenly spaced or T-shaped and clustered together, which adds to the density of the covering.