pulcher (L.) = beautiful. Pillans was clearly enamoured by this admittedly handsome species.
WCM Protologue Reference:
Pillans, Trans. Roy. Soc. South Africa 29: 350 (1942)
Vegetative parts: plants tufted, 0.3–0.6 m tall, basal diameter 0.05–0.15 m, crown diameter 0.1–0.3 m, compact, without spreading rhizomes or stolons. Fertile culms unbranched, smooth, olivaceous, 0.4–0.6 m tall, diameter at base 0.6–1.1 mm, diameter at apex 0.5–1 mm. Sheaths closely convoluted, 15–50 mm long, green to yellow,brown along the margins becoming entirely grey with age, apical margins broadly chartaceous and soon decaying, hyaline shoulders absent, apex, excluding the membranous lobes, acuminate or acute. Sheath-mucro penicellate, straight and erect, 2–5 mm long, apex decaying only eventually. Males: male inflorescence with 2–5 spikelets or 6–10 spikelets or 11–20 spikelets, paniculate, 20–60 mm long, 20–40 mm wide. Male inflorescence spathes persistent, shorter than spikelets, chartaceous. Male flowers in spikelets. Male spikelets pendulous on flexible pedicels, oblong or elliptical, apex rounded or acute, 15–25 mm, 4–8 mm, with 12–20 flowers, pedicels shorter than the spikelets, flattened. Male bracts taller than flowers or more than twice as tall as flowers, 10–16 mm long, oblong or ovate, acuminate, cartilaginous (the awn is often flanked by more or less membranous regions, which may decay), bract upper margin like body of bract or membranous, thinner texture than the body, bract awn less than half as long as the bract body, olive-brown; upper margin membranous and decaying more rapidly than rest, leaving shorter, truncate old male bracts. Male flower 4–6.5 mm long. Male tepals sepals more rigid than petals, cartilaginous, petals chartaceous, oblong, inner tepals shorter than outer tepals. Male outer lateral tepals keeled or winged, glabrous. Anthers 2.5–3 mm long, included in the flowers. Pistillode absent. Females: female inflorescence paniculate or racemose, 10–80 mm long, 5–15 mm wide, with 1 spikelet or 2–5 spikelets. Female spathes shorter than the spikelets or as long as the spikelets, persistent, chartaceous. Female spikelet pedicel simple, elliptical, apex obtuse or acute, 15–25 mm long, with 14–20 flowers, with 0 sterile bracts. Female bracts taller than flowers, 10–20 mm long, oblong or elliptical, acuminate, cartilaginous, apical margin like rest of bract or membranous, same as body of bract, awn less than half as long as the bract body. Female flower 6–8 mm long, without a fleshy pedicel. Female tepals chartaceous or 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 whorl longer than outer. Female outer lateral tepals keeled or winged, wings entire, narrower than body, 5–7 mm long. Female odd outer tepal oblong, 6–6.5 mm long. Female inner tepals oblong, 6–7.5 mm long. Staminodes absent. Styles plumose, white, 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 oblong, narrower than long. Nut apex smooth, without a distinct cap, wall smooth, 1.2–2 mm long, 1–1.8 mm diam., shape in side view elliptical or oblong (apical margin truncate), shape in top view elliptical in cross section, brown. Elaiosome absent.