This cool to cold growing, large, terrestrial, sometimes lithophytic or rarely epiphytic, tufted species with erect leaves is found at a height of between 2,000 and 4,000 metres, including around Machu Picchu in Peru, on steep rocky slopes covered with grasses and shrubs in full sun but with the leaves protected by the grass with short ramicauls enveloped by a series of tubular bracts with a linear-oblanceolate, tapered to the channelled petiolate base, acute, thick leaf that blooms in the spring and early summer with an erect, 39 to 44 cm. long, single flowered inflorescence carrying two distant, tubular bracts and a single inflated tubular, ovate floral bract with the long-lasting flowers held way above the leaves. The unequal colour distribution apparent in M. veitchiana is accorded to the presence of minute purple hairs on the sepals which lend a prismatic visual aspect to the flower. Viewed head-on with the light behind you, the colour is symmetrical. This species has orange flowers covered in a pattern of small purple hairs that create a kind of iridescence as the flower moves in the breezes. The blooms are very large, approximately 5 cm. X 15 cm.