fruticosus (L.) = bushy. The fertile culms frequently have clusters of sterile branches at the nodes, giving the plants a somewhat bushy appearance.
WCM Protologue Reference:
P.J.Bergius, Descr. Pl. Cap.: 353 (1767)
Vegetative parts: plants mat-Forming, 0.25–0.6 m tall, basal diameter 0.3–1 m, crown diameter 0.3–1 m, with rhizomes. Rhizome looping up, with clusters of culms on the uploops or slender, looping up to one or several culms, 1–3 mm in diam., culms 10–50 mm apart. Fertile culms unbranched, velvety pubescent, silvery-gray, 0.25–0.6 m tall, diameter at base 1.2–2.2 mm, diameter at apex 0.2–1.2 mm. Clusters of sterile branches at the nodes of the fertile branches present. Sterile branches present while flowering. Sheaths closely convoluted, 45–120 mm long, very pale brown, almost cream, apical margins narrowly membranous or broadly membranous or broadly chartaceous and soon decaying, hyaline shoulders absent, apex, excluding the membranous lobes, acute. Sheath-mucro absent or penicellate, straight and erect, 0–1 mm long, In many specimens the whole sheath is hyaline, while in others there is a central, basal portion which is coriaceous or at least papery. Sterile branch leaf-sheath 1–2 mm long, hyaline shoulder 2–3 mm long, lacerated, leaf-blade 3–4 mm long; leaf blade 0.2–0.3 mm wide. Males: male inflorescence with 11–20 spikelets or 21–50 spikelets, paniculate, 30–250 mm long, 20–50 mm wide. Male inflorescence spathes persistent, upper margins lacerated and largely decayed at anthesis, shorter than spikelets, chartaceous. Male flowers in spikelets. Male spikelets pendulous on flexible pedicels, oblong or ovate, apex rounded, 7–20 mm, 5–8 mm, with 10–20 flowers, pedicels shorter than the spikelets, flattened. Male bracts taller than flowers, 5–10 mm long, ovate, acute or acuminate, hyaline (narrow margin) or chartaceous (most of body), bract upper margin like body of bract, bract awn minute or absent, body brown, with narrow hyaline margin. Male flower 3.5–4.5 mm long. Male tepals sepals more rigid than petals, chartaceous, petals membranous, oblong, inner and outer tepals the same length. Male outer lateral tepals keeled or winged, glabrous. Anthers 1.5–2.6 mm long, included in the flowers. Pistillode absent. Females: female inflorescence linear or paniculate or racemose, 20–300 mm long, 10–50 mm wide, with 2–5 spikelets or 6–10 spikelets or 11–20 spikelets. Female spathes longer than the spikelets, not obscuring spikelet, persistent, chartaceous or membranous. Female spikelet pedicel simple or pedicel sparsely branching or pedicel much branched, oblong or ovate, apex rounded, 10–25 mm long, with 10–50 flowers, with 0 sterile bracts. Female bracts taller than flowers, 8–13 mm long, oblong, acute, hyaline (usually a very narrow margin, in Little Karoo the bulk of the bract) or chartaceous (bulk of the bract), apical margin like rest of bract, same as body of bract, awn minute or absent. Female flower 4–7.5 mm long, without a fleshy pedicel. Female tepals cartilaginous, glabrous and smooth, at least as tall as nut, wrapped around it and obscuring the surface, midrib flush with the tepal body, apices acute, inner and outer whorls the same length or inner whorl shorter than outer. Female outer lateral tepals keeled or winged, wings entire, wings lateral sepals not decurrent on stipe or lateral sepals decurrent, without grooves, wider than body, exserted past bracts or exserted past bracts and overlapping with one another (often the bract is a narrow point, with most of the wings protruding and overlapping), 4–7.5 mm long. Female odd outer tepal oblong, 3.5–5 mm long. Female inner tepals oblong, 2.8–5 mm long. Staminodes absent. Styles plumose, white (quite cream), 1. Ovary with 1 locule, indehiscent. Fruit: indehiscent fruits with a softer ovary wall. Perianth presence on fruits persistent, winged. Shape of winged dispersal unit orbicular. Nut apex smooth, without a distinct cap, wall smooth, (2.44–)2.5(–2.56) mm long, (1.56–)1.58(–1.6) mm diam., shape in side view elliptical, shape in top view elliptical in cross section, brown. Elaiosome absent.