The compact inflorescence of Elegia cuspidata is brush-like, the bracts among the spikelets of flowers ending in long awns. The awns are pale brown to yellowish, conspicuously protruding above the dark flowers. The tiny white parts visible upon the flowers appear to be styles, making this probably a female plant; the sexes found in separate plants in restios.
Some sheaths are visible at nodes of the robust green culms. The pointed sheath is loosely wrapped around the culm (Dorrat-Haaksma and Linder, 2012; Manning, 2007; www.plantzafrica.com).