Annuals. Rhizomes absent. Culms tufted, erect, 11-30 cm tall, ca. 0.5 mm wide, 3-angled, sulcate, glabrous. Leaves basal and cauline, sheathing; contraligule rounded to obtuse; leaf blade capillary, ca. 1 mm wide. Involucral bracts setaceous, basal one to 0.6 cm and shorter than spikelet cluster; bractlets glumelike. Inflorescences spicate, 2.5-8.5 cm, formed by clusters of 2 or 3 spikelets each separated by 2-17 mm. Spikelets mostly bisexual, ovoid, 3-4 mm, rarely basal one unisexual with a single male flower. Glumes ovate, keeled, both sides of midvein membranous with reddish brown lines, apex mucronate; basal 2 glumes empty; middle glume with a female flower; apical 1 or 2 glumes with a male flower. Male flowers: stamens 3; connective apex protruding, forming a thin tip. Female flowers: stigmas 3. Disk obscure. Nutlet white, subspherical, ca. 1 mm in diam., slightly 3-sided, transversely rugose, base with a brown stalk, apex tipped. Fl. and fr. Aug-Oct. 2n = 10.
This annual species may be distinguished from the perennial S. dieterlenii which it resembles in its aerial parts, by the lack of a rhizome or any other perennating stem, by its broadly V-shaped lamina-profile (the lamina-profile of S. dieterlenii is flanged-V- shaped); by its glabrous glumes and by its grey, strongly tuberculate-verrucose achenes with the crests of the tubercles lighter grey.
Inflorescence a simple 5–13 cm. long spike of 5–30 glomerules
Annual, caespitose. Culms 0.13-0.38 m tall, glabrous. Leaves 1-2 mm broad, glabrous or the sheaths minutely pilose towards the truncate or concave mouths. Inflorescence unbranched, 20-65 mm long, or with one short basal branch bearing a single glomerule. Glomerules 2-13-(18) of 1-7 sessile or subsessile spikelets. Bracts acuminate, shorter than or slightly exceeding the spikelets. Spikelets 4-5 mm long. Glumes 2.5-3.5 mm long, glabrous, mucronu- late, pale with red-brown striae, or wholly reddish-brown. Achene subglobose, 1.4-1.8 x 1.2-1.6 mm, glabrous, trabeculate to tuberculate-verrucose, grey possibly with brown stipe (only immature achenes seen).
This species is known in Southern Africa from a single gathering made near Dundee in Natal in 1944. The gathering was identified as var. brachystachys by Nelmes in 1955. Robinson expressed reservations about the validity of maintaining var. brachystachys. I am unable to express an opinion since the species is unknown to me in the field and 1 have seen very little material. The species is widely distributed in Africa, India, Sri Lanka and New Guinea and var. brachystachys is recorded outside the FSA area from Zimbabwe and Tanzania.