Terrestrial or occasionally epiphytic herbs. Rhizome of few internodes of equal length. Stem with a few rosulate leaves. Leaves with a short-petiolate base dilating into a tubular, amplexicaul sheath; lamina obliquely ovate-elliptic to suborbicular, coloured light to dark green sometimes suffused with red, with varying degrees of silver to gold reticulation, reddish purple underneath. Inflorescence pubescent; peduncle with a few scattered sheathing bracts; floral bracts pubescent, equal in length to pedicel plus ovary. Flowers non-resupinate, the outer surfaces of the sepals pubescent. Lateral sepals enclosing base of labellum, sometimes spreading, similar to dorsal sepal. Petals membranous, linear-ligulate to obliquely ovate-lanceolate, upper margin adnate to the dorsal sepal. Labellum asymmetric, twisted, attached to base and lower margins or column; hypochile saccate at base, semi-globose, sides erect, quadrate when spread, each apex forming an obtuse lobe, often divided longitudinally by a low fleshy keel, each side containing a single, fleshy, cylindric-clavate appendage at the base, exterior of each side with a narrow fleshy flange parallel to the membranous upper margin of the hypochile; mesochile when present narrow, short to relatively long, epichile entire, cordate, elliptic or transversely elliptic. Column twisted obliquely, semi-terete, slightly to dilated at middle, sometimes basally bent upward and forming an oblique angle with the ovary; anther ovoid to narrowly ovoid, biloculate, pollinia obovoid to clavate, attenuated into short to long, slender stalks and attached MAC ODES to a small, fleshy, ellipsoid viscidium, rostellum narrowly deltoid, remnant deeply bifid; stigma lobes connate, located under base of rostellum; column wings two, ventrally lamellate, subquadrate to dolabriform. Ovary pubescent. Capsule not seen. (PO, PC).
Plants are found in lowland and montane rain forest from 100 to 1500 m, growing in moist leaf litter and humus or soil in partial to deep shade. Schlechter (1911) described the curious epiphytic habit of Macodes dendrophila Schltr. In the Solomon Islands, however, both collections of M. dendrophila have been found growing terrestrially. Schlechter (1911) also reported that he found another epiphytic species in northern Sulawesi (Celebes), but because the plant had no flowers it is not mentioned in his other accounts of that flora. (PO, PC).
Macodes species were cultivated as ornamentals in the mid- and late nineteenth century and early twentieth century but are rarely seen in modern collections. Observations on a herbarium sheet [Tedder 252 (BSIP)] containing a mixed collection of a Macodes species and a Corybas species from Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands indicate that at least one of these orchids (under its Birao name 'Malasonikoichau') is used to make babies talk, and that another (under the Kwara'ae name 'Bubuturoura'), when mixed with a Piper L. species, is used to catch or attract river fish. It is doubtful if either orchid is actually used for these purposes, but further ethnobotanical studies are needed. (PO, PC).