Annual herb to 1 m or more; stem pubescent. Leaf-blade oblong, ovate or elliptical, to 11 x ca. 3.5 cm, apex obtuse, acute or acuminate, apiculate, base decurrent onto a short petiole, entire, pubescent, ciliate. Inflorescence of terminal and axillary, to ca. 15 cm long pedunculate, hemispherical or short-cylindrical heads; heads to 2.5 x ca. 2.5 cm; involucral leaves green, foliaceous, broadly ovate, to ca. 1 cm long, pubescent like cauline leaves; bracts ovate, 4-6 mm long, scarious, glabrous; bracteoles narrowly elliptical, 7-10 mm long, glabrous, strongly scarious-winged, irregularly jagged-denticulate, much longer than perianth. Flowers red, white, purplish-red, pink or yellow; tepals 5-6 mm, lanate with straw-colored, whitish, reddish or brownish hairs. Utricle ellipsoid, strongly apiculate into a to ca. 2 mm long beak; seed lenticular-ovoid, ca. 1.3 x 1 mm, rich brown or yellowish-brown, lustrous.
Guianas present, Pantropical present, tropical Asia
Originally native to tropical Asia, now pantropically cultivated for the ornamental inflorescence, also naturalized; 11 collections of naturalized plants studied, all from the Guianas (GU: 5; SU: 4; FG: 2).