Perennial, 20–48 cm tall, glabrous, rhizomatous and stoloniferous, with rhizomes and stolons to 21 cm long. Stem with numerous basal and 2–3(–4) cauline flat leaves; basal leaves 5–25 cm × 3–7 mm; cauline leaves 4.5–10 cm × 1.5–5 mm, sparsely pubescent to glabrous at margins, without or with a short mucronate projection on callose tip. Inflorescence terminal, mostly decompound, rarely compound; secondary/primary pedicels ratio (1.0–) 1.3–2.5; primary pedicels (6–) 8–13, erect to slightly spreading; flowers borne singly on primary, secondary or tertiary pedicels. Basal bract to 4.5 cm long, shorter than inflorescence. Bracteoles 1.8–2.7 mm long. Tepals equal, 2.9–4.3 mm long, lanceolate, acute to acuminate, sometimes mucronate, entire, purple to castaneous brown with narrow hyaline margins. Stamens 6; anthers 0.6–1.2 mm long, shorter than or equalling filaments; anther/filament ratio 0.5–1.0; style 0.8–1.1 mm long; stigmas c. 2.0 mm long, ±persistent. Capsule ovoid, acute to mucronate or rostrate, shorter than or equalling tepals, light purple to stramineous. Seeds ellipsoid, 0.9–1.3 × 0.7–0.9 mm, with apical appendages 0.1–0.3 mm long; seed/appendage ratio 5–13. 2n=42 [6BL+36CL], fide H.Nordenskiöld, Hereditas 37: 345 (1951), and herbarium label records, see list of specimens.
Mountains of E Tropical Africa and closely adjacent areas. 23: ZAI. 24: ETH. 25: KEN, TAN, UGA.
23. ZAIRE: Karisimbi Mtns, Rukumi plateau, 2800 m, H.J.Schlieben 4795 (P); Karisimbi Mtns, Rukumi plateau, 3550 m, P.H.Auquier 2275 (AAU, LD). 24. ETHIOPIA: Bale Mtns, Rira, 3300 m, I.Friis et al. 5543 (C). 25. KENYA: Aberdare Ra., Nyeri track, 3070 m, O.Hedberg 1568 (LD, UPS; 2n=42); Mt Kenya, 3400 m, O.Hedberg 1937 (UPS); Central Prov., Nanyuki Distr., Mt Kenya, c. 3100–3300 m, L.Jonsson 329 (UPS). TANZANIA: Kilimanjaro, Peters Hut, c. 3500 m, P.J.Greenway 3808 (K); Kilimanjaro, above Marangu, S of Peters Hut, 3350 m, O.Hedberg 1365 (K; 2n=42). UGANDA: Ruwenzori [Mtns], Mijusi valley, 3850 m, 30 Mar 1948, O.Hedberg 600 (S); Kigezi Distr., Mt Muhavura, 3350 m, 3 Oct 1948, O.Hedberg 2062 (K, S).
Open parts of woodlands, rain forests, bamboo or Senecio forests, lowest parts of alpine regions, upland moors, and other moist habitats in altitudes 2200–4200 m.