Annuals or perennials. Leaf-blades flat, linear, tapering to a fine point; ligule represented by a line of hairs. Inflorescence composed of racemes arranged along a central axis, the racemes usually numerous and ascending or appressed to the axis; rhachis narrow, bearing the spikelets singly, in pairs or on short side branchlets, the lower glume adaxial. Spikelets usually lanceolate, dorsally compressed, acute to aristate, supported upon a bead-like swelling formed from the lowest rhachilla internode and adherent vestigial lower glume (rarely the latter developed); upper glume as long as the spikelet; lower floret male or barren, the lemma resembling the upper glume but a little shorter; upper lemma crustaceous, finely muricate, clasping only the edges of the palea, obtuse and mucronate. Caryopsis oblong-elliptic, dorsally compressed, obtuse.