extendo (L.) = to stretch out, expand. Referring to the curious spreading rhizomes typical of this species.
WCM Protologue Reference:
Pillans, Trans. Roy. Soc. South Africa 29: 343 (1942)
Vegetative parts: plants clumped, 0.4–0.65 m tall, basal diameter 0.2–2 m, crown diameter 0.2–2 m, with rhizomes. Rhizome long and slender, culms isolated and widely spaced, 1–1.5 mm in diam., culms 5–40 mm apart. Fertile culms unbranched or sparingly branched, compressed or compressed after pressing, solid or with a small central cavity, smooth or finely rugulose, olivaceous, 0.3–0.65 m tall, diameter at base 1.5–2 mm, diameter at apex 1.5–2 mm. Clusters of sterile branches at the nodes of the fertile branches present. Sterile branches present while flowering or present post flowering. Sheaths more than 1 per culm, dropping off, with an abscission line present, loosely convoluted or flat and standing free from culm, 1.5–2 mm long, margins entire, yellowish/tan with light brown speckles, tan margins, upper 1/3 in colour and texture similar to the lower 2/3, apical margins coriaceous, like the rest of the body, hyaline shoulders absent, apex, excluding the membranous lobes, acute. Sheath-mucro penicellate, straight and erect, 0.4–0.6 mm long. Sterile branch leaf-sheath 1–2 mm long (this refers to the sheaths on individual branches, not to the large sheath subtending the entire cluster of branches). Males: male inflorescence with 21–50 spikelets or 50–100 spikelets or 101–500 spikelets, paniculate, 25–120 mm long, 10–25 mm wide. Male inflorescence spathes caducous, taller than spikelets, cartilaginous. Male spathellae conspicuous, 3–9 mm long. Male flowers in spikelets. Male spikelets erect on stiff pedicels or sessile, undifferentiated, apex undifferentiated, 1.5–2.5 mm, 1.5–2.5 mm, with 4–5 flowers, pedicels shorter than the spikelets, terete or angular. Male bracts shorter than flowers, 0.5–0.8 mm long, orbicular, rounded, chartaceous or cartilaginous, bract upper margin like body of bract, bract awn minute or absent. Male flower 1.4–1.8 mm long. Male tepals sepals and petals the same rigidity, cartilaginous, oblong or elliptical (outer tepals are generally elliptical, inner ones oblong or elliptical), inner tepals longer than outer tepals. Male outer lateral tepals conduplicate, glabrous. Anthers 0.8–1.1 mm long, included in the flowers. Females: female inflorescence interrupted or linear, 40–110 mm long, 10–15 mm wide, with 11–20 spikelets or 21–50 spikelets. Female spathes longer than the spikelets, not obscuring spikelet or obscuring spikelet, persistent, cartilaginous. Female spathellae conspicuous (there are only broadly ovate/elliptical spathellae and no narrow, slender ones), 6–12 mm long. Female spikelet pedicel simple, orbicular or undifferentiated, apex undifferentiated, 3–4 mm long, with 6–10 flowers, with 0 sterile bracts. Female bracts shorter than flowers, erect, 0.8–1.1 mm long, ovate, rounded or obtuse or acute, cartilaginous, apical margin membranous or like rest of bract, same as body of bract, awn minute or absent. Female flower 1.5–2.2 mm long, without a fleshy pedicel, six tepals. Female tepals cartilaginous, glabrous and smooth, at least as tall as nut, wrapped around it and obscuring the surface, midrib raised, margins entire, apices rounded or obtuse, inner and outer whorls the same length. Female outer lateral tepals conduplicate, hidden by bracts, or bracts are shorter than flowers, 1.5–2.2 mm long. Female odd outer tepal oblong or elliptical (very concave), 1.5–2.2 mm long. Female inner tepals oblong, 1.5–2.2 mm long. Staminodes present. Styles white, 3. Style bases free. Ovary with 1 locule, indehiscent. Fruit: indehiscent fruits with a softer ovary wall. Nut apex smooth, without a distinct cap, wall smooth or wall tuberculate, (1.36–)1.56(–1.84) mm long, (0.76–)0.98(–1.24) mm diam., shape in side view ovate, shape in top view round in cross section, brown. Elaiosome absent.