It differs from Z. aethiopica in many important respects: it is deciduous, it has no staminodes among the female organs, its fruit remains a firm berry until germination and does not turn orange-coloured and become pulpy while still on the peduncle. The present concept of Z. albomaculata is a relatively broad one and includes several forms which have in the past been upheld as distinct species. In this complex there is considerable variation in leaf shape and degree of maculation, as well as in spathe shape and colour. To some extent this variation is linked with geographical distribution and therefore three subspecies are upheld.
Spadix 5–6.5 cm. long, with naked basal stipe 0.5–0.8 cm. long; staminate part cylindric, subequal to pistillate part, 2–2.8 cm. long, 0.4 cm. in diameter; pistillate part cylindric, 2–2.5 cm. long, 0.8 cm. in diameter, lacking staminodes.
Stamens 1 mm. long, 0.5 mm. broad.
Inflorescence subequal to leaves; peduncle 15–30 cm. long, 0.5–1.2 cm. in diameter.
Spathe 9–12 cm. long; tube obconic, 5 cm. long, 2–3.5 cm. in diameter, inner surface lemon to greenish yellow, Tanzanian material lacking dark basal patch; limb broadly ovate, long-acuminate, 4–8 cm. long, 5–8 cm. broad, lemon to greenish yellow on inner surface.
Tuber ± depressed-globose, ± 7 cm. in diameter.
Petiole 20–40 cm. long, sheathed from base for about half total length; blade hastate-sagittate; median lobe oblong-lanceolate to ovate, 10–40 cm. long, 5–9 cm. broad, irregularly spotted with small, white-diaphanous, necrotic areas lacking green tissue; basal lobes 5–10 cm. long, truncate, rounded or subacute, widely spreading.
Pistil with subglobose ovary 2–3.5 mm. in diameter, narrowing abruptly into a slender 1 mm. long style; stigmas capitate.
Plants 40-75 cm tall. Leaves deciduous, up to 75 cm long; petiolate; petiole variable in length and proportion to leaf-blade, green or purple or striped and mottled with purple at the base, sometimes with soft hairs towards the base; blade maculate or immaculate, oblong- or triangular- to orbicular hastate, up to 40 cm long and 25 cm broad; lower lobes variable from short and rounded to long triangular with rounded apex, or strap-shaped with a blunt or acute apex. Peduncle up to 75 cm long, green or sometimes stained or mottled with purple, sometimes with soft hairs towards the base. Spathe 2.5-17 cm long, seldom without a dark purple area at the base inside, varying in colour from white through ivory, cream, straw-coloured to pale yellow and, seldom, coral pink, the colour outside greenish at the base, intensifying upwards as the spathe matures; tube sometimes open to the base, mostly variably convolute, broadening towards the apex; limb subtruncate to gradually tapering, apiculate, somewhat recurved. Spadix sessile or stipitate; ovaries not interspersed with staminodes, 3-locular with 3-4 ovules per locule. Fruits few to many, up to 2 cm in diam., green, crowded, 4-8 seeded, upper surface flattened, persistent stigma short and sunk.
The distribution of the aggregate species extends from the eastern Cape Province through Natal, northern Lesotho, north-eastern Orange Free State, Swaziland, south-eastern and eastern Transvaal, and continues northwards into Rhodesia, Malawi, Zambia and Angola, with a recent record from West Tropical Africa which requires further study.