Leaves narrowly linear, 2--5(--8) cm, 0.8--1(--1.7) mm wide at middle, glabrous, veins 3(--5). Scapes 6--30, 6--9(--19) cm, 4--6-ribbed; sheath 1.5--2(--3.5) cm; receptacle villous, occasionally glabrous; heads light yellow to dark green, subglobose to broadly ovoid, ca. 4 × 3--3.5 mm; involucral bracts pale green-yellow to blackish, obovate to elliptic, 0.9--1.9 × 1--1.4 mm, membranous, glabrous; floral bracts oblong to oblanceolate, glabrous or occasionally abaxially villous. Male flowers: sepals spathelike, 1.3--1.9 mm, glabrous or abaxially hairy toward 3-cleft apex; petals 3, ovate to oblong, anterior one slightly larger than others, shortly hairy at apex, gland black or brown; anthers white to dusky. Female flowers: sepals 2 or 3, blackish, free, linear, sparsely villous abaxially and at margin, posterior one absent or to 1 mm, lateral ones 1--1.7 mm; petals absent; ovary 3-loculed; style 3-cleft. Seeds ovoid, 0.4--0.5 mm; testa hexagonally reticulate, prickles absent. Fl. and fr. Jun--Oct.
Herbs, annual or short-lived perennial, 15--30 cm. Leaves linear-attenuate, to 10 cm, apex subulate-filiform. Inflorescences: scape sheaths shorter than principal leaves, loose; scapes filiform, 0.5 mm wide, 6--8-ribbed; mature head silvery-gray, ovoid to nearly globose, 4--5 mm wide, soft; receptacle sparsely pilose, hairs translucent; involucral bracts spreading-ascending, not obscured by bracteoles and flowers of mature heads, pale, ovate to oblong, oblanceolate or broadly obovate, grading narrower inward, 2 mm, margins often lacerate or erose, apex acute, glabrous; receptacular bracts pale except for gray midzone, linear-oblong, 2 mm, margins erose or entire, apex acute, glabrous. Staminate flowers: sepals 3, dark, either deeply and narrowly lobed or broadly spatulate, 3-dentate, 1.5 mm, distally with scattered white, linear, short hairs; androphore flaring; petals 3, oblong, apex with white, tapering hairs; stamens 6; anthers yellow. Pistillate flowers: sepals 3, 2 linear-elliptic, 1 broadly elliptic-oblanceolate, concave, 1.5 mm, apex acute, sometimes with few translucent hairs; gynophore 1 mm with 3 spreading, peglike, minute appendages; pistil 3-carpellate. Seeds pale brown, ovoid or broadly ellipsoid, 4.5 mm, finely reticulate, alveolae horizontally rectangular.
Capitula small, about 2·4-3 mm. diam., brownish or fuscescent.
Scapes slender, usually less than 4 in. high
Male flowers: sepals connate into a spathe with tridentate tip, dark grey, glabrous; petals included within the calyx, tiny; anthers white, 0.1 mm.long.
Capitulum globose to ovoid, 2–4 mm. diameter, grey- and straw-coloured or becoming darker, the bracts very loosely erect; involucral bracts as long as the capitulum, obovate-oblong, rounded becoming lacerate, ascending, pallid, scarious becoming tougher downwards; floral bracts lanceolate-oblong, thinly scarious, pale with a dark central band or sometimes blackish, glabrous or a few inner lightly keeled with fine sparse hairs on the keel; receptacle thinly pilose; flowers trimerous, pedicellate.
Scapes slender, straight, often numerous, 4–13 cm. high, 5-ribbed; sheaths ± equalling the leaves, subinflated, the mouth scarious, shortly obliquely slit.
Leaves narrowly linear to acicular, setaceous-tipped, forming a neat dense cluster, 1–3 cm. long, 0.2–2 mm. wide, fenestrate.
Female flowers much reduced and consisting mostly of the gynoecium: sepals 3, 2 or absent, filiform, caducous; petals absent, their position indicated by a node on the ovary stipe.