Soft-based annual, 10-50 cm high, stems short. Leaves erect or (mostly) in a fan, sheath entire, red-brown to tan or brown, papillose-rugulose, eligulate or with short ligule, blade flattened, 1-5 mm wide, papillose-scabrid, margins thin or slightly thickened, papillose-scabrid. Scapes terete or subterete, distally 0.5-1 mm thick, ecostate to tricostate or striate, surfaces rugulose-papillose or scaberulous, rarely smooth; spikes ovoid to short-cylindric, ellipsoid or subglobose, 0.3-0.7(-1) cm, bracts many in a spiral, tan to red-brown, with narrow, green to maroon dorsal area, empty bracts smaller than and grading upward into larger fertile ones, these obovate to suborbicular, 3-5 mm, rounded, entire, convex, ecarinate. Lateral sepals free, very inequilateral, broad, ca. 3 mm, strongly curved, keel broad, thin, irregularly ciliate or ciliolate; petals broadly obovate, 2-2.5 mm; staminodes reduced, beardless; anthers 0.5 mm. Capsule 1.5-2.5 mm, placentation basal, valves eseptate; seeds ellipsoid or ovoid, 0.4-0.5 mm, apically truncate, minutely apiculate, amber.
Andean foothills E to coastal districts present, Argentina present, French Guiana, South America present
South America from the Andean foothills E to coastal districts, S into Argentina. French Guiana records are as yet unavailable, but it is highly likely that they will come.
South of the Guianas in the Planalto of Brazil occur two other varieties. One,
var. glabrata Seub. (Fl. Bras. 3(1): 217. 1855), differs only in that it is smooth and perhaps should be treated instead as a "forma". The other, var. procera (Malme) Malme (Ark. Bot. 13(3): 53. 1913), appears to be a short-lived perennial as well as being somewhat taller and more robust; again this as well should be considered a "forma".