The epiglottis is the flexible, leaf-like cartilaginous structure that sits upright in the pharynx, between the base of the tongue and the larynx. The root or petiole of the epiglottis is inside the upper part of the thyroid cartilage just above the anterior insertion of the vocal cords. During swallowing, the epiglottis bends backward to cover the entrance of the larynx, helping to divert food into the esophagus.