Perennial herb (sometimes woody and somewhat suffrutescent), occasionally flowering in the first year, 0.2-2 m, stiffly erect to subscandent or straggling and ±prostrate, simple to much-branched, stems stout to very weak, distinctly to obscurely 4-angled, striate or sulcate, subglabrous to densely tomentose, the nodes ±shrunken when dry. Leaves elliptic, oblong or oval and acute or acuminate to almost round and very obtuse, gradually or abruptly narrowed below, (2-) 3-12 (-16) x 1.3-6 cm, indumentum varying from uniformly subglabrous through subglabrous above and densely appressed-canescent below to ± densely tomentose on both surfaces; petioles of main stem leaves 3-25 mm, shortening above and below. Inflorescences at first dense, finally elongating to (5-) 8-34 (-40) cm; peduncles (0.6-)1-6(-7.5) cm. Bracts lanceolate or narrowly deltoid-lanceolate, pale or brownish-membranous, 1.75-5 (-6) mm, glabrous. Bracteoles 1.5-4.5 (-6) mm, the basal wings 1/3-1/4 (-1/2) the length of the spine and adnate to it, typically tapering off above but not rarely rounded or truncate. Perianth whitish or pale green to red or purple, segments 5, 3-7 (-10) mm, the outer longest, narrowly lanceolate to lanceolate, very acute, with a distinct midrib and 2 obscure to distinct lateral nerves, narrowly or moderately pale-margined. Stamens 5, the filaments 1.5-4.5 (-6) mm, alternating with subquadrate pseudo-staminodes. Typically the apex of the latter curves slightly inwards as a narrow, crenate or entire, often very delicate flap, while from the dorsal surface arises a fimbriate-ciliate scale extending across the width of the pseudo-staminode; not rarely, however, this is reduced to a “stag’s-horn” process at the centre of the dorsal surface, or even becomes small and filiform-or else subapical or apical so that the pseudo-staminode appears simple (this mostly in small forms of var. sicula, which has not yet been found in Pakistan). Style slender, 1-4 (-6) mm. Capsule 1-3 (-5) mm. Seed filling the capsule, cylindrical, smooth.
Herbs perennial, 20-120 cm tall. Stem quadrangular, pubescent; nodes slightly inflated; branches opposite. Petiole 0.5-1.5 cm, somewhat hairy; leaf blade broadly obovate or elliptic-oblong, 1.5-7 × 0.4-4 mm, papery, both surfaces hairy, base cuneate or rounded, margin entire or undulate, apex obtuse, with a mucro. Spikes terminal, erect, reflexed after anthesis, 10-30 cm; rachis angular, stout, densely hairy. Bracts lanceolate, 3-4 mm, apex acuminate; bracteoles spiny, shiny, 2.5-4.5 mm, rigid, base 2-winged; wings 1.5-2 mm, membranous, margin entire. Tepals lanceolate, 3.5-5 mm, with a vein. Stamens 2.5-3.5 mm; pseudostaminodes truncate or crenate at apex, fimbriate and ciliate. Utricles ovoid, 2.5-3 mm. Seeds brown, ovoid, ca. 2 mm. Fl. Jun-Aug, fr. Oct. 2n = 42, 48, 84, 96.
In Afrikaans it is called grootklits and langklitskafblom. In French, herbe à Bengalis, herbe sergen, and queue de rat.Spanish common names include cadillo chichoborugo, cadillo de mazorca, and mazotillo.
Plants perennial or annual. Stems 0.4-2 m, pilose or puberulent. Leaf blades elliptic, ovate, or broadly ovate to orbiculate, obovate-orbiculate, or broadly rhombate, 1-20 × 2-6 cm, adpressed-pubescent abaxially and adaxially. Inflorescences to 30 cm; bracts mem-branous; bracteoles long-aristate, spinose; wings attached at sides and base. Flowers: tepals 4 or 5, length 3-7 mm; pseudostaminodes with margins fimbriate at apex, often with dorsal scale. Utricles ± cylindric, 2-4 mm, apex truncate or depressed.
Achyranthes aspera is a variable, pantropical species divided into six varieties (C. C. Townsend 1974), two of which occur in the flora. The variety with a long perianth and acuminate leaves has long been called var. aspera; the variety with a short perianth and blunt leaves, var. indica. However, A. Cavaco (1962) showed that the type of var. indica must be the type of the species A. aspera, thus var. indica is a homotypic synonym of var. aspera. Townsend made the combination A. aspera var. pubescens for plants previously called var. aspera.
A protean species, of which innumerable varieties, forms or segregate species according to opinion have been created. Three entities are recognisable in Pakistan, of which selected specimens are cited here