Plants 30-120 cm. Corms depressed-globose or globose to napiform. Stems puberulent to hirsute-puberulent. Leaves: (basal on relatively distant internodes usually withering before flowering) proximal cauline 1-nerved, narrowly oblanceolate, 60-200(-300) × 3-8 mm, gradually or abruptly reduced distally (becoming slightly to strongly deflexed), essentially glabrous or sparsely puberulent, gland-dotted. Heads in dense, spiciform arrays. Peduncles usually 0, sometimes 1-5(-10) mm. Involucres turbinate-cylindric, 12-20 × 4-6 mm. Phyllaries in 3-4 series, narrowly lanceolate-triangular, unequal, strigose to strigoso-hispid, margins with hyaline borders, apices (at least inner) prolonged, spreading, ± dilated, petaloid (pink, purplish, white, or yellow). Florets 4-5; corolla tubes glabrous inside. Cypselae 3.5-5(-6) mm; pappi: lengths ± equaling corollas, bristles plumose. Variety elegans extends across the geographic range of the species; the other three varieties form local enclaves essentially imbedded within var. elegans and sporadically intergrading with it at points of contact (see further comments under 10d. var. kralii).