K. variicola was described as a species of Klebsiella distinct from its closely related species Klebsiella pneumoniae in 2004. Like other Klebsiella species, K. variicola is gram-negative, rod-shaped, non-motile, and covered by a polysaccharide capsule.
K. variicola is known to associate with a number of different plants including banana trees, sugarcane and has been isolated from the fungal gardens of leaf-cutter ants. Some K. variicola strains have been associated with disease in humans, suggesting they may be able to serve as opportunistic pathogens of humans. K. variicola have also been isolated from cows suffering from bovine mastitis.