Description from Flora of China
Perennial, rhizomatous. Culms solitary or tufted, 25–40 cm tall, ca. 2 mm in diam. Leaf sheaths loose, papery, smooth, glabrous; leaf blades flat or loosely convolute, 3.5–22 cm × 2–5 mm, abaxial surface glabrous, adaxial surface puberulous, subacute; ligule 1–5 mm. Panicle 7–16 cm, usually reduced to a lax raceme of 3–9 spikelets; branches unbranched, flexuous, smooth, lower binate, each bearing 1 or 2 spikelets, lateral spikelets on pedicels ca. 1 cm or more long. Spikelets wedge-shaped, 2.2–3.2 cm, purple and golden brown, florets 5–8; rachilla smooth; glumes narrowly lanceolate to elliptic, apex acute to erose, lower glume lanceolate, (3–)7–9 mm, upper glume broadly lanceolate or elliptic, 12–15 mm; lemmas narrowly elliptic-oblong, lowest 1.4–2.7 cm, papery, membranous, smooth or scaberulous near margins and apex, apex rounded or erose; palea 1/2 lemma length or less, keels scabrid-ciliolate. Anthers 4.5–7.5 mm. Fl. and fr. Jul–Aug.
The spikelets are variable in size, but always striking because of their colorful, conspicuously papery texture and very obtuse lemmas.
* Stony mountainsides, alpine steppe, river gravel; 2700–5000 m. Qinghai, Sichuan, Xizang, Yunnan.