Vegetative parts: plants tufted, 0.1-1-2.5 m tall (on Pilaarkop the plants are often miniature, especially in exposed sites), basal diameter 0.3-0.5 m, crown diameter 0.5-1 m, with rhizomes. Rhizome spreading, unbranched or sparsely branched, culms evenly spaced, 4.5-8 mm in diam., culms 10-50 mm apart. Fertile culms unbranched, compressed or compressed after pressing, solid or with a small central cavity, smooth or finely rugulose, olivaceous, 0.1-1-2.5 m tall (on Pilaarkop the plants are often miniature, especially in exposed sites), diameter at base 4.5-6 mm, diameter at apex 2.5-6 mm. Branch axil indumentum absent. Clusters of sterile branches at the nodes of the fertile branches absent. Sheaths more than 1 per culm, dropping off, with an abscission line present, loosely convoluted, 50-130 mm long, margins entire, yellowish/tan to brown with tan margins - in the case of brown sheaths the upper portion is usually lighter in colour., upper 1/3 in colour and texture similar to the lower 2/3 or abruptly different from the base, and soon decaying, apical margins narrowly membranous, hyaline shoulders absent, apex, excluding the membranous lobes, acute. Sheath-mucro penicellate, straight and erect, 4-20 mm long.
Males: male inflorescence with 21-50 spikelets or 50-100 spikelets or 101-500 spikelets or 501 and more spikelets, paniculate, 50-160 mm long, 20-60 mm wide. Male inflorescence spathes caducous, taller than spikelets, cartilaginous. Male spathellae inconspicuous or absent or conspicuous (a few of the spathellae are conspicuous, long and slender), 3-16 mm long. Male flowers in spikelets. Male spikelets erect on stiff pedicels or sessile, oblong or ovate or undifferentiated, apex rounded or undifferentiated, 4-7 mm, 4-6 mm, with 4-7 flowers, pedicels shorter than the spikelets or as long as the spikelets, terete or angular or flattened. Male bracts shorter than flowers or as tall as flowers, 2-4 mm long, oblong or ovate, acuminate, margins entire, chartaceous, bract upper margin like body of bract, bract awn less than half as long as the bract body. Male flower 2.5-3 mm long. Male tepals sepals and petals the same rigidity, coriaceous or cartilaginous (outer tepals tend to be coriaceous while the inner tepals are sturdy and cartilaginous), ovate or orbicular, inner tepals longer than outer tepals. Male outer lateral tepals conduplicate (slightly), glabrous. Anthers 1.5-1.8 mm long, included in the flowers.
Females: female inflorescence interrupted, 60-200 mm long, 20-40 mm wide, with 21-50 spikelets or 51-100 spikelets. Female spathes longer than the spikelets, obscuring spikelet, persistent, cartilaginous (quite sturdy). Female spathellae conspicuous, 8-20 mm long. Female spikelet pedicel sparsely branching, undifferentiated, apex undifferentiated, 5.5-16 mm long, with 3-6 flowers, with 0 sterile bracts. Female bracts taller than flowers, erect, 4.5-8 mm long, oblong or ovate, acuminate, coriaceous, apical margin like rest of bract, same as body of bract, margins entire, awn less than half as long as the bract body. Female flower 4.5-7 mm long, without a fleshy pedicel, six tepals. Female tepals bony, glabrous and smooth, midrib raised, apices acuminate, inner and outer whorls the same length. Female outer lateral tepals like other tepals, 4.5-6.5 mm long. Female odd outer tepal ovate, 4.5-6.5 mm long. Female inner tepals ovate, 4.5-6.5 mm long. Staminodes present. Styles feathery, white, 3. Style bases free. Ovary with 3 locules, dehiscent.
Fruit: seed (2.4-)2.7(-2.96) mm long, (1.72-)1.75(-1.84) mm in diameter, shape in side view ovate or elliptical, shape in diameter triangular in cross section, brown.
Western Cape; the Cape Floristic Region Cape Peninsula or South-western mountains or Langeberg - Outenique mountains; South-western Cape mountains, mostly in habitats receiving South-easter cloud cover in summer: Cape Peninsula, Hottentots Holland mountains to Klein Riviers Berg, and the Langeberg from Leeuriverpeak to Garcias Pass. To the north the species reaches Victoria Peak at the head of Jonkershoek, with a single collection from the Cossacks above Bains Kloof Pass (but this is a rather strange-looking specimen, and this northern extension should be corroborated). Occurrence in Provincial Conservation Areas or National Parks in the Western Cape Limietberg or Nuweberg or Kogelberg or Cape Peninsula or Riviersonderend or Marloth or Grootvadersbosch.
Altitude 450-1550 m. Rockiness of habitat no rocks. Bedrock: Table Mountain Shale. Groundwater availability well-drained soils, or valley bottom seeps. Vegetation type fynbos. South-east clouds present. Locally dominant in seeps and wet areas; mostly this species is found in the cloud-zone from the south-easterly winds. However, it is most common in seepages. Often it may be the dominant restio in the area. Plants killed by fire, regenerating from seed. Seed dispersal mode undifferentiated.
horticulture. Occasionally on same from Kirstenbosch.