multus (L.) = many, + spicula (L.) = spikelets. The species differs from its relatives by having several female spikelets, not one or two only.
WCM Protologue Reference:
Pillans, J. S. African Bot. 18: 117 (1952)
Vegetative parts: plants tufted, 0.4–0.5 m tall, compact, without spreading rhizomes or stolons. Fertile culms unbranched, round (not compressed), solid or with a small central cavity, smooth or finely warty, olivaceous, 0.4–0.5 m tall, diameter at base 0.8–1.2 mm, diameter at apex 0.6–1 mm. Branch axil indumentum absent. Clusters of sterile branches at the nodes of the fertile branches absent. Sheaths more than 1 per culm, persistent, with no abscission line, closely convoluted, 20–30 mm long, margins entire, brown, upper 1/3 in colour and texture similar to the lower 2/3, apical margins narrowly membranous, hyaline shoulders absent, apex, excluding the membranous lobes, acuminate. Sheath-mucro penicellate, straight and erect or twisted, 0–1 mm long. Males: male inflorescence with 2–5 spikelets or 6–10 spikelets or 11–20 spikelets, paniculate, 15–40 mm long, 15–20 mm wide. Male inflorescence spathes persistent, shorter than spikelets, coriaceous. Male flowers in spikelets. Male spikelets pendulous on flexible pedicels, obovate or orbicular, all straight, apex rounded (flat), 7–10 mm, 5–7 mm, with 20 flowers, pedicels as long as the spikelets, flattened. Male bracts more than twice as tall as flowers, 6–7 mm long, oblong, obtuse or acute, margins entire, chartaceous, bract upper margin like body of bract or membranous, thinner texture than the body, bract awn minute or absent, margins straight. Male flower 3 mm long. Male tepals sepals more rigid than petals, chartaceous, petals chartaceous, linear or oblong, inner tepals shorter than outer tepals or inner and outer tepals the same length (inner only slightly shorter than outer tepals). Male outer lateral tepals keeled or winged or conduplicate, glabrous. Anthers 1.5–2 mm long, included in the flowers. Females: female inflorescence linear, 30–60 mm long, 5–15 mm wide, with 1 spikelet or 2–5 spikelets. Female spathes shorter than the spikelets, persistent, cartilaginous. Female spathellae inconspicuous or absent. Female spikelet sessile, linear, apex acute, 15–30 mm long, with 7–16 flowers, with 1 sterile bracts. Female bracts at least twice as long as flowers, erect, 11–12 mm long, oblong (lanceolate and tapering bract length 11–12mm), acute, chartaceous or cartilaginous, apical margin like rest of bract, paler than body of bract or same as body of bract, margins entire, awn minute or absent. Female flower 2.5–4 mm long, regular, without a fleshy pedicel, six tepals. Female tepals chartaceous, glabrous and smooth, at least as tall as nut, wrapped around it and obscuring the surface, midrib flush with the tepal body, margins entire, apices obtuse or acute, inner and outer whorls the same length or inner whorl shorter than outer. Female outer lateral tepals keeled or winged, wings entire, as wide as body, hidden by bracts, or bracts are shorter than flowers, 2.5–4 mm long. Female odd outer tepal oblong, 2–3.5 mm long. Female inner tepals oblong, 2.5–3 mm long. Staminodes absent. Styles flattened, white, 3. Style bases free. Ovary with 1 locule, indehiscent. Fruit: indehiscent fruits with a softer ovary wall. Perianth presence on fruits persistent, winged. Shape of winged dispersal unit oblong, narrower than long. Nut apex smooth, without a distinct cap, wall smooth, (1.6–)1.99(–2.16) mm long, (1.12–)1.25(–1.32) mm diam., shape in side view elliptical, shape in top view elliptical in cross section, brown. Elaiosome absent.