The Kili'o'opu is related to the Sedge family of plants and grows like a grass though it spreads by a creeping rhizome instead of seeds. The plant was introduced to Hawai'i by the Europeans primarily as a form of cattle grazing grass.
Kili'o'opu is a rather striking grass. Growing up to two feet in height, the top of each stalk splits into three leaves at exactly equal angles. In the very center where the three leaves join is a greenish (or sometimes white-tan for the closely related Kyllinga nemoralis) flower.