The varied lorikeet is 19 cm (7.5 in) long. It is mainly green with short yellow longitudinal streaks. The lores, forehead, and crown are red. The beak is red, the bare eye-rings are white, the lores are bare, and the irises are orange-yellow. The upper breast is mauve with longitudinal yellow streaks. The legs are bluish-grey. In the female the red on the head is less extensive, and the breast has duller colours. Juveniles are much duller and are mainly green with an orange forehead, pale-brown irises, and a brown beak that is orange at the base.
Species (taxonomy note: * indicates taxa that may classified as a subspecies of the rainbow lorikeet or a separate species)
(extinctions: † indicates a species confirmed to be extinct, ₴ indicates evidence only from sub-fossils)