purpurea (L.) = purple colour. In reference to the colour of the base of the plants.
WCM Protologue Reference:
(Pillans) H.P.Linder, Bothalia 15: 487 (1985)
Vegetative parts: plants tufted (Neat erect tussocks), 0.5–1.5 m tall, basal diameter 0.05–0.5 m, crown diameter 0.3–0.8 m, compact, without spreading rhizomes or stolons. Fertile culms branching or much branched, round (not compressed), finely rugulose, olivaceous or speckled golden (occasionally a distinct deep purple), 0.5–1.5 m tall, diameter at base 1.2–2.8 mm, diameter at apex 0.2–0.8 mm. Sheaths closely convoluted, 8–30 mm long, coloured as the culm or slightly darker, apical margins coriaceous, like the rest of the body, hyaline shoulders absent, apex, excluding the membranous lobes, acuminate or acute. Sheath-mucro penicellate or awl- or needleshaped, straight and erect, 1–5 mm long, distinctly striated. Males: male inflorescence with 2–5 spikelets or 6–10 spikelets, racemose, 8–30 mm long, 5–30 mm wide. Male inflorescence spathes caducous, shorter than spikelets or as tall as spikelets, cartilaginous or chartaceous, distinct awn. Male flowers in spikelets. Male spikelets spreading to somewhat reflexed on still pedicels, obovate or orbicular, apex rounded or obtuse or acute, 4–10 mm, 3–9 mm, with 4–15 flowers, pedicels shorter than the spikelets, terete or angular or flattened. Male bracts taller than flowers, 3–9 mm long, oblong or ovate or elliptical or obovate, obtuse or acute or acuminate, cartilaginous, bract upper margin like body of bract, bract awn minute or absent or less than half as long as the bract body, distinct dark 'tips' on pale bodys, extending into dark awn. Male flower 2.5–3.5 mm long. Male tepals sepals more rigid than petals, cartilaginous, petals membranous, linear, inner and outer tepals the same length. Male outer lateral tepals keeled or winged or conduplicate, glabrous. Anthers 1.5–2 mm long, exserted from the flowers. Females: female inflorescence linear or racemose, 8–45 mm long, 3–8 mm wide, with 2–5 spikelets or 6–10 spikelets. Female spathes shorter than the spikelets or as long as the spikelets, persistent, cartilaginous. Female spikelet sessile, elliptical or obovate, apex obtuse or acute, 8–13 mm long, with 1 flowers, with 3–5 sterile bracts. Female bracts shorter than flowers or as tall as flowers (nut with perianth extends beyond bracts, inspite of being shorter than the bracts, as the nut and flower are seated on a fleshy pedicel.), 5–15 mm long, oblong, rounded or acuminate, cartilaginous, apical margin like rest of bract, darker than body of bract, awn minute or absent or less than half as long as the bract body. Female flower 4–6 mm long, with a fleshy pedicel, with four tepals or six tepals. Female tepals cartilaginous or membranous, glabrous and smooth, at least as tall as nut, wrapped around it and obscuring the surface, midrib flush with the tepal body, apices rounded, inner whorl shorter than outer (petals minute). Female outer lateral tepals like other tepals, hidden by bracts, or bracts are shorter than flowers, 4–6 mm long. Female odd outer tepal obovate, 4–6 mm long. Female inner tepals linear or oblong, 0.2–1 mm long (these structures are not well understood, and could be staminodes). Staminodes absent. Styles plumose, white, 2. Style bases free. Ovary with 1 locule, indehiscent. Fruit: indehiscent fruits with a hard woody ovary wall. Perianth presence on fruits persistent, membranous, as tall as nuts. Nut cap smooth, wall smooth, (4.75–)5.49(–6.5) mm long, (2.08–)2.35(–2.58) mm diam., shape in side view ovate, shape in top view round in cross section, brown. Elaiosome present, white, 3–4 mm long, more than 0.5 nutlength.