Perennial with evergreen aerial parts. This species is easily confused with S. nyasensis C.B. Cl., which has not been recorded from the FSA region to date, from which it is distinguished by its narrower leaves, by its fewer lateral panicles, by its golden achene-hairs and by its three strongly unguiculate hypogynium lobes. Of the species recorded from the FSA region it most closely resembles S. achtenii from which it is distinguished by its narrower leaves, by its more numerous lateral panicles, by its distinctly tessellate-lacunose, more densely hirsute, golden-haired achenes and by its three strongly unguiculate hypogynium lobes.
Perennial. Rhizome usually with very short internodes little more than the connective between almost contiguous, slightly swollen culm bases; scales pale brown. Culms 0.45-1.0(-1.35) m tall, glabrous. Leaves 1.4-5 mm broad, glabrous or sparsely pilose; mouths of sheaths truncate or convex. Inflorescence much elongated; terminal panicle c. 30 mm long; shorter Lateral panicles 2-4(-5) per node at 2-3 nodes on slender, unequally exserted drooping peduncles. Bracts foliaceous. Male spikelets pedicillate, 4-5 mm long with pedicels 1-8(-10) mm long; glumes stramineous or castaneous with green keels, glabrous. Female glumes similar with midrib excurrent into an awn c. 1 mm long; 3.5-4 mm long. Achene ovoid or subglobose, 2.7 x 1.7-1.9 mm. hairy, lightly tessellate-lacunose, grey or light brown, the hairs white or golden: hypogynium with three unguiculate lobes clasping the achene, light brown.