spathe (L.) = broad flat wooden blade, in our species probably referring to the inflorescence spathes, which are very prominent.
WCM Protologue Reference:
Mast., J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 21: 588 (1885)
Vegetative parts: plants tufted, 0.3–0.8 m tall, basal diameter 0.02–0.1 m, crown diameter 0.1–0.3 m, compact, without spreading rhizomes or stolons. Fertile culms unbranched, round (not compressed), smooth or finely rugulose, green or olivaceous, 0.3–0.8 m tall, diameter at base 0.5–1.2 mm, diameter at apex 0.6–1.2 mm. Clusters of sterile branches at the nodes of the fertile branches absent. Sheaths dropping off, with an abscission line present, loosely convoluted, 20–45 mm long, tan as background colour with dense reddish-brown speckles, margins tan, apical margins coriaceous, like the rest of the body or narrowly membranous, hyaline shoulders absent, apex, excluding the membranous lobes, acute. Sheath-mucro absent or penicellate, straight and erect, 0.8–1.3 mm long. Males: male inflorescence with 50–100 spikelets or 101–500 spikelets or 501 and more spikelets, paniculate, 25–100 mm long, 10–20 mm wide. Male inflorescence spathes caducous, taller than spikelets, cartilaginous. Male spathellae inconspicuous or absent or conspicuous, 5–10 mm long. Male flowers in spikelets. Male spikelets erect on stiff pedicels or sessile, undifferentiated, apex undifferentiated, 2–3 mm, 1.5–2.5 mm, with 4–8 flowers, pedicels shorter than the spikelets, terete or angular. Male bracts shorter than flowers, 0.5–1.5 mm long, ovate or orbicular, rounded or obtuse, chartaceous or cartilaginous, bract upper margin like body of bract, bract awn minute or absent. Male flower 1–1.5 mm long. Male tepals sepals and petals the same rigidity, cartilaginous, oblong or elliptical or ovate, inner tepals longer than outer tepals. Male outer lateral tepals as other tepals, glabrous. Anthers 0.7–1.1 mm long, included in the flowers. Females: female inflorescence interrupted or linear, 30–80 mm long, 10–20 mm wide, with 11–20 spikelets. Female spathes longer than the spikelets, obscuring spikelet, persistent, cartilaginous (20–30 mm long, apices recurved or more commonly erect, often making a distinctive, square inflorescence). Female spathellae inconspicuous or absent or conspicuous, 5–10 mm long. Female spikelet pedicel sparsely branching, undifferentiated, apex undifferentiated, 3–4.5 mm long, with 4–12 flowers, with 0 sterile bracts. Female bracts shorter than flowers, 0.9–1.5 mm long, ovate or obovate, rounded, cartilaginous, apical margin like rest of bract, same as body of bract, awn minute or absent. Female flower 1–2 mm long, without a fleshy pedicel. Female tepals cartilaginous, glabrous and smooth, at least as tall as nut, wrapped around it and obscuring the surface or smaller than nut and not obscuring the nut surface, midrib raised, margins entire, apices acute, inner and outer whorls the same length. Female outer lateral tepals conduplicate, hidden by bracts, or bracts are shorter than flowers, 1–1.6 mm long. Female odd outer tepal oblong, 1–1.6 mm long. Female inner tepals oblong or ovate, 1–1.6 mm long. Staminodes absent. Styles feathery, 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, (1.28–)1.91(–2.6) mm long, (0.68–)0.94(–1.16) mm diam., shape in side view ovate, shape in top view elliptical in cross section or triangular in cross section, brown. Elaiosome absent.