major (L.) = great, large. This species has the largest spikelets in the genus.
WCM Protologue Reference:
(Mast.) H.P.Linder, Bothalia 15: 436 (1985)
Vegetative parts: plants tufted, 1–1.5 m tall. Fertile culms sparingly branched or branching, compressed, smooth or finely rugulose, green, 1–1.5 m tall, diameter at apex 1–2.2 mm. Branch axil indumentum absent or present. Sheaths closely convoluted, 25–55 mm long, green, apical margins narrowly membranous, hyaline shoulders membranous margins continuing behind awn, hyaline shoulder 0.1 of sheath body length, apex, excluding the membranous lobes, acute. Sheath-mucro awl- or needleshaped, straight and erect, 5–12 mm long. Sterile branch leaf-sheath 8–10 mm long, hyaline shoulder 0.5 mm long, leaf-blade 15–20 mm long. Males: male inflorescence with 2–5 spikelets or 6–10 spikelets or 11–20 spikelets, racemose, 40–200 mm long, 15–40 mm wide. Male inflorescence spathes caducous, shorter than spikelets, coriaceous or cartilaginous. Male flowers in spikelets. Male spikelets erect on stiff pedicels or sessile (but deflexed at between 45 and 270 degrees), oblong or obovate, apex rounded, 10–30 mm, 10–25 mm, with 6–12 flowers, pedicels absent ie spikelets sessile. Male bracts taller than flowers or more than twice as tall as flowers, 5–18 mm long, ovate, acute, cartilaginous, bract upper margin like body of bract, bract awn minute or absent, striking, golden bracts. Male flower 4–5 mm long. Male tepals sepals and petals the same rigidity, chartaceous or cartilaginous, linear, inner and outer tepals the same length. Male outer lateral tepals conduplicate, glabrous or keel sparsely villous. Anthers 2.5 mm long, exserted from the flowers. Pistillode present. Females: female inflorescence linear, 30–80 mm long, 5–25 mm wide, with 1 spikelet or 2–5 spikelets. Female spathes shorter than the spikelets or as long as the spikelets, persistent, coriaceous or cartilaginous. Female spikelet sessile, oblong, apex truncate or rounded, 25–45 mm long, with 5–12 flowers, with 0–1 sterile bracts. Female bracts at least twice as long as flowers, 14–28 mm long, ovate, acute or acuminate, cartilaginous, apical margin like rest of bract, same as body of bract, awn minute or absent. Female flower 4–6 mm long, without a fleshy pedicel. Female tepals cartilaginous, keels of lateral sepals sparsely villous or keels of lateral sepals densely villous, midrib flush with the tepal body, apices acute, inner and outer whorls the same length (inner sometimes fractionally shorter than outer). Female outer lateral tepals conduplicate, 4.4–6 mm long. Female odd outer tepal oblong or ovate, 4–5.5 mm long. Female inner tepals ovate, 3.5–4.5 mm long. Staminodes present. Styles feathery, white, 3. Style bases free. Ovary with 2 locules or 1 locule, dehiscent. Fruit: seed (1.68–)1.87(–2.2) mm long, (1.32–)1.49(–1.7) mm in diameter, shape in side view elliptical, shape in diameter round in cross section, white, brittle, white ornamentation.