Herbs perennial, 70-120 cm tall. Stem green or tinged purple, angulate or quadrangular, appressed or spreading pubescent, or nearly glabrous; branches opposite. Petioles 0.5-3 cm, hairy; leaf blade elliptic or elliptic-lanceolate, rarely oblanceolate, 4.5-12 × 2-7.5 cm, both surfaces annexed or spreading pubescent, base cuneate or broadly cuneate, caudate. Spikes terminal or axillary, 3-5 cm; rachis 1-2 cm, white hairy. Flowers dense, ca. 5 mm. Bracts reflexed after anthesis, broadly ovate, 2-3 mm, apex acuminate; bracteoles 2.5-3 mm, spiny, base 2-parted, apex curved. Tepals shiny, lanceolate, 3-5 mm, with a midvein, apex acute. Stamens 2-2.5 mm; pseudostaminodes slightly serrulate, apex rounded. Utricles yellowish brown, shiny, oblong, 2-2.5 mm, smooth. Seeds light brown, oblong, ca. 1 mm. Fl. Jul-Sep, fr. Sep-Oct. 2n = 42, 84*.
Erect or straggling herb, 0.6-2 m, much-branched. Stem and branches indistinctly quadrangular, striate or sulcate, subglabrous to moderately (rarely more densely) hairy, the nodes frequently much shrunken when dry. Leaves elliptic-oblong to broadly oval, rarely narrowly lanceolate, shortly or longly acuminate, gradually or more abruptly narrowed below, (4.5-) 9-22 (-28) x (1.2-) 2.5-8.5 (-10) cm, usually thinly hairy (or moderately so along the lower surface of the veins), rarely densely appressed-hairy on the lower surface (not in Pakistan); petioles of main stem leaves 3-20 (-30) mm, shortening above and below. Inflorescences at first dense, finally lax and elongating to as much as 20 cm but commonly about half this length, peduncles 1-4 (-6) cm. Bracts narrowly lanceolate, brownish-membranous, 3-5 mm, glab¬rous. Bracteoles 3.5-5.5 mm, the basal wings c.0.5-1.5 mm, almost or quite free from the commonly outwardly curving spine or (as in Pakistan) variably adnate to it. Perianth segments 5, 4-7 mm, the outer longest, all narrowly lanceolate, very acute, with a distinct midrib and 2 obscure or obvious lateral nerves, narrowly pale-margined. Stamens 5, the filaments 2-3 mm, alternating with subquadrate pseudo-staminodes which are typically simple and shortly dentate or sub-entire, more rarely (and not in Pakistan) with a much shorter rudimentary tooth- or crest-like, shortly toothed dorsal scale. Style slender, 1-2 mm. Capsule 2-3 mm. Seed filling the capsule, cylindrical smooth.
An erect forest herb, 2–4 ft. high
Leaves comparatively large, turning black-green on drying