Robust herb to 1 m high; rhizome ovoid or cylindrical, yellow-orange, getting bluish in upper part with a smell of old potatoes, 6.4-11.0 x 3.9-6.6 cm; sap copious; tunic to 8 cm, usually large, matted and fibrous, rather easily detached, brown-red. Outer leaves 3 to 5, ovate, dull maroon-brown at the base, 6-14 x 0.8-1.4 cm, ciliate on the margins and midrib below, glabrous above; trichomes tufted, white; nerves of unequal size, (29 to) 39 to 67; inner leaves 8 to 27, linear, grass green except whitish basal parts, (12-) 21-48 (-66) x 0.6-1.6 cm wide, in basal part wider and with membranous margins, prominently keeled, ciliate on the margins and midrib below, glabrous above; trichomes tufted, adpressed, ca. 4-branched with branches 0.5-2.7 mm long, white or grey; thin nerves of equal size, very densely arranged (when dry), (29 to) 33 to 67. Scapes 3 to 13, 13-27 cm x 3-4 (-5) mm, basally tapering, shortly winged and ciliate, in upper half prominently hispid with tufted trichomes; raceme 6- to 12-flowered, floral anthesis acropetal; bracts subulate, lowermost 11-25 x 1.5-2.0 mm, 7-nerved, pubescent on midrib and nerves abaxially; upper bracts much smaller, almost filiform; pedicels 4-23 mm long, hispid. Tepals 6, clear yellow inside, green outside with pale yellow margins; outer tepals oval, 9-16 x 3-5 mm, 5- to 9-nerved with irregular nerves, abaxially hispid; appendage clavate; inner tepals ovate, obtuse, 9-14 x 4.5-10.0 mm, 5- to 7- (10-) nerved with irregular nerves, pubescent abaxially along the midrib; stamens subequal or inner shorter than outer, greenish yellow; outer stamens 5-9 mm long with filaments 3.5-4.5 mm long; inner stamens 4.5-7.5 mm long with filaments 2.5-3.5 mm long; anthers linear, prominently sagittate, slightly emarginate or fused at apex, 3.5-5.0 mm long; ovary 4.5-13.0 x 3.5-6.0 mm, hispid; style 1-2 mm long; stigma pyramidal, greenish yellow, 1.5-3.0 mm long. Capsule obconical, 6-10 x 4-5 mm, hispid; seeds 6 to 9, ovoid, 1.2-1.5 x ca. 1 mm, black and glossy; seed coat colliculate.
Near Threatened in East Africa but Least Concern in Africa.
A species with a wide range from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Republic of South Africa, Swaziland to Lesotho. It occurs in the Zambezian Region, the Kalahari-Highveld Transition zone, the Sudanian Region and the Somalia-Masai Region. Its centre of abundance is situated in the eastern part of the South Africa. In the Central and East Africa the range of this species is disjunct and insular. It occurs in this area between 1524 and 2591 m a.s.l., but most frequent from 1600-2000 m a.s.l., in the submountain and lower part of the mountain vegatation zone belts. A species bottom limit of the vertical range is elevating towards North and East (Nordal et al. 2001, Wiland-Szymańska 2001, Snijman et al. 2003).
Grassland, scattered tree and shrub grassland, swamp edge, damp valley; dark grey sandy and stony loam.