membrana (L.) = thin skin, film or membrane. Refers to the membranous lobes on the bracts and sheaths.
WCM Protologue Reference:
H.P.Linder & C.R.Hardy, Bothalia 40: 21 (2010)
Vegetative parts: plants clumped or tufted or single isolated shoots, 0.3-0.6 m tall, basal diameter 0.05-1 m, crown diameter 0.05-1 m, with stolons. Fertile culms branching, smooth or finely rugulose or finely warty (densely and finely white-spotted), olivaceous, 0.3-0.6 m tall, diameter at base 1-2.2 mm, diameter at apex 0.2-0.7 mm. Sheaths closely convoluted, 5-20 mm long, creamy-brown, upper 1/3 in colour and texture abruptly different from the base, and soon decaying, apical margins broadly membranous, hyaline shoulders absent, apex, excluding the membranous lobes, acute or obtuse or truncate (the remainder after the membranous tip as decayed). Sheath-mucro hair-like, straight and erect, 1-3 mm long (scarcely developed, part of the upper membranous bract portions), apical 1/3-1/2 of the bracts are membranous, and decay to leave a more or less truncate coriaceous remnant. Males: male inflorescence with 11-20 spikelets or 21-50 spikelets or 50-100 spikelets, paniculate, 20-45 mm long, 5-20 mm wide. Male inflorescence spathes persistent, taller than spikelets, chartaceous, upper margins soon decaying. Male flowers in spikelets. Male spikelets erect on stiff pedicels or sessile, obtriangular, apex truncate, 5-8 mm, 2.5-3.5 mm, with 3-8 flowers, pedicels shorter than the spikelets, terete or angular. Male bracts taller than flowers, 3.5-5 mm long, oblong or ovate, acute, chartaceous, bract upper margin membranous, thinner texture than the body (grading gradually into chartaceous base, often substantially more than half the bract membranous), bract awn minute or absent, the largely membranous male bracts dominate the appearance of the male inflorescences, giving the whole a membranous look. Male flower 1.8-2.2 mm long. Male tepals sepals more rigid than petals, cartilaginous, petals membranous, oblong, inner and outer tepals the same length. Male outer lateral tepals conduplicate, keel sparsely villous. Anthers 0.8-1 mm long, exserted from the flowers. Pistillode present. Females: female inflorescence paniculate, 10-70 mm long, 10-25 mm wide, with 2-5 spikelets or 6-10 spikelets or 11-20 spikelets or 21-50 spikelets. Female spathes as long as the spikelets, persistent, chartaceous (upper half membranous and becoming various lacerated or decayed). Female spikelet sessile or pedicel simple, oblong or elliptical or obovate or obtriangular, apex rounded, 5-10 mm long, with 3-6 flowers, with 0 sterile bracts. Female bracts taller than flowers, 3-5.5 mm long, ovate, acute, chartaceous (below) or membranous (upper 2/3), apical margin membranous, paler than body of bract, awn minute or absent. Female flower 2.6-3 mm long, without a fleshy pedicel. Female tepals cartilaginous, keels of lateral sepals sparsely villous, at least as tall as nut, wrapped around it and obscuring the surface, midrib flush with the tepal body, apices rounded, inner and outer whorls the same length. Female outer lateral tepals conduplicate, 2.6-3 mm long. Female odd outer tepal oblong, 2.6-3 mm long. Female inner tepals oblong, 2.6-3 mm long. Staminodes present. Styles feathery, white, 3. Style bases free. Ovary with 1 locule, indehiscent. Fruit: indehiscent fruits with a softer ovary wall. Perianth presence on fruits persistent, papery to leathery, not winged. Nut apex smooth, without a distinct cap, wall smooth, 1.2-1.4 mm long, 0.9-1 mm diam., shape in side view obovate, shape in top view round in cross section, brown (almost reddish). Elaiosome absent.