T: Ecuador, Pichincha, Pan-American Highway, 35 km S of Quito, 2800 m, H.Balslev 1167; holo: NY.
Perennials, 60–120 cm tall, loosely caespitose; rhizome creeping, 2–5 mm in diam., with non-overlapping scarious scales and internodes 0.5–2 cm long. Stem 1.2–3.5 mm in diam. Cataphylls 1–3 per stem, reddish, later paler brown; lower cataphyll to c. 6 cm long; upper cataphyll to 20 cm long. Cauline leaves 1–3, with basal one to 80 cm long (distal leaves shorter, often with reduced blade), unitubular, perfectly septate, 2–5 mm in diam.; sheath to 12 cm long, reddish, later light brown, with margins scarious; auricles scarious, 1.5–2.5 mm long, obtuse. Lower bract 2–7 cm long, sheath-like, open, brown, with a rudimentary blade to 1.5 cm long, shorter than inflorescence; ultimate bracts to 4 mm long, scarious. Inflorescence decompound, anthelate, 2 (–3) times branched; main branches to 13 cm long; secondary branches abbreviated, forming many-flowered castaneous head 6–10 mm in diam. on each main branch. Tepals ±equal, lanceolate, rigid, subulate, 2.5–3.0 mm long, castaneous; outer tepals carinate with margins indistinct and scarious. Stamens 3 (–6); anthers to 0.7 mm long, ±as long as (later shorter than) 0.6–1.0 mm filaments; style c. 0.4 mm long; stigmas c. 0.5–0.8 mm long. Capsule unilocular, ellipsoid, trigonous to trilobed in T.S., subabruptly narrowing in a rostrum, c. 2.2–3.0 mm long, brown to castaneous, ±equalling perianth. Seeds ellipsoid, apiculate, 0.4–0.5 × c. 0.2 mm, yellowish brown, reticulate; appendages absent.