Annual; culms 3-45cm high, usually erect. Leaf-blades 1-10 cm long, up to 2 mm wide, rough on the margins, minutely hairy above. Inflorescence a sparingly branched, erect or sometimes slightly nodding panicle or raceme, 3-20cm long; pedicels 0.2-2mm long. Spikelets 5-10.5mm long (excluding the awns), breaking up at maturity below each fertile floret; the lower 1-3 florets fertile, the upper 3-7 sterile and usually with longer and wider lemmas with shorter awns. Lower glume 0.1-mm long, less than a quarter the length of the upper; upper glume 1.5-4mm long, acute but often appearing truncate or obtuse because of the deciduous apex; fertile lemma 4-6.5mm long, with an awn usually 1-2 times as long, finely 3-nerved or with 2 extra short nerves, pubescent to ciliate (or glabrous in Europe); anthers 1(-3), 0.4-0.6(-1.6)mm long, included at anthesis.