pulcher (L.) = beautiful, fair, lovely. Referring to the stunning appearance of these plants when in full flower.
WCM Protologue Reference:
H.P.Linder, S. African J. Bot. 61: 222 (1995)
Vegetative parts: plants tufted, 0.5-0.7 m tall, basal diameter 0.1-0.3 m, crown diameter 0.2-0.5 m, with rhizomes. Rhizome spreading, unbranched or sparsely branched, culms evenly spaced, 5-10 mm in diam., culms 2-5 mm apart. Fertile culms unbranched, round (not compressed), solid or with a small central cavity, smooth (but shrivelling into longitudinal ridges with drying), green, 0.5-0.7 m tall, diameter at base 2-3 mm, diameter at apex 1.5-2 mm. Sheaths closely convoluted, 30-35 mm long, margins ciliate, olivaceous below with a the upper half brown., upper 1/3 in colour and texture abruptly different from the base, and soon decaying, apical margins narrowly membranous, hyaline shoulders absent, apex, excluding the membranous lobes, acute or obtuse. Sheath-mucro penicellate (very fine and soon lost), straight and erect, 3 mm long, Brown upper portion of the sheaths soon decaying. Males: male inflorescence with 6-10 spikelets or 11-20 spikelets or 21-50 spikelets, paniculate (forming a dense head of silvery bracts, very striking), 50-60 mm long, 15-20 mm wide. Male inflorescence spathes caducous, taller than spikelets, cartilaginous, shiney pale brown sheaths. Male flowers in spikelets or not aggregated into spikelets. Male spikelets erect on stiff pedicels or sessile, undifferentiated, apex undifferentiated, 5-12 mm, 4-10 mm, with 10-30 flowers, pedicels shorter than the spikelets, terete or angular. Male bracts taller than flowers, 7-8 mm long, linear, acute or acuminate, membranous, bract upper margin like body of bract, bract awn minute or absent, pale straw-coloured. Male flower 6-7 mm long. Male tepals sepals and petals the same rigidity, membranous, linear, inner tepals shorter than outer tepals or inner and outer tepals the same length. Male outer lateral tepals as other tepals, glabrous. Anthers 1.5-2 mm long, included in the flowers. Pistillode absent. Females: female inflorescence with 1 spikelet. Female spathes longer than the spikelets, obscuring spikelet, persistent, cartilaginous (just like the male, with 3-4 spathes, only the top one contains a spikelet; spathes concolorous brown). Female spathellae inconspicuous or absent. Female spikelet sessile, elliptical (narrowly so), apex rounded or obtuse or acute, 30-35 mm long, with 1 flowers, with 14-16 sterile bracts. Female bracts taller than flowers, erect, 20-27 mm long, ovate, acuminate, chartaceous to membranous, apical margin membranous (body pale purplish with a brownish tip), same as body of bract, margins entire, awn minute or absent. Female flower 3 mm long, without a fleshy pedicel, six tepals. Female tepals membranous, glabrous and smooth, smaller than nut and not obscuring the nut surface, midrib flush with the tepal body, margins entire, apices acute or acuminate, inner and outer whorls the same length. Female outer lateral tepals like other tepals, 2 mm long. Female odd outer tepal ovate, 2 mm long. Female inner tepals ovate, 2 mm long. Staminodes absent. Styles plumose, 2. Style bases free. Ovary with 1 locule, indehiscent. Fruit: indehiscent fruits with a hard woody ovary wall. Perianth presence on fruits persistent, membranous, shorter than nut. Nut apex smooth, without a distinct cap, wall tuberculate, 12-13 mm long, 9-10 mm diam., shape in side view elliptical or ovate, shape in top view round in cross section, black, mode of seed release for nutted plants unknown. Elaiosome absent.