Plants stout, to 1 m tall, basally with black, reticulate fibers formed from disintegrated sheaths. Leaves cauline, sessile or sometimes shortly petiolate in distal part of stem; leaf blade broadly elliptic to broadly ovate-lanceolate, usually 22--25 × ca. 10 cm, glabrous, apex acute or acuminate. Panicle many flowered; lateral branches suberect or spreading at an acute angle, often with male flowers; terminal raceme usually with bisexual flowers; rachis densely white woolly; bracts pubescent marginally and abaxially. Pedicel on branches of panicle ca. 5 mm, subequaling bracts, densely woolly. Tepals black-purple, oblong, 5--8 × ca. 3 mm, spreading or slightly recurved in bisexual flowers, margin entire. Stamens 2.5--4 mm. Ovary glabrous. Capsule 1.5--2 × 1--1.3 cm. Fl. and fr. Jul--Sep. 2 n = 16, 64.