Erect or climbing shrubs; culms slender; nodes usually rather prominent; internodes rather short; branches fasciculate from the nodes. Culm-sheaths thin, papery; imperfect blade narrow, subulate. Leaf-blades finally disarticulating from the sheaths, often with regular transverse veinlets. Inflorescence variable, paniculate or racemose. Spikelets 1-many-flowered, all bisexual or the uppermost reduced, cylindrical or ± compressed, often large, loose and linear; glumes 2, persistent, membranous to herbaceous, few- to many-nerved; lemma usually larger and exceeding the glumes, rounded on the back, herbaceous becoming chartaceous or coriaceous, 5-13-nerved, usually with transverse veinlets, obtuse, acute or acuminate; palea several-nerved, 2-keeled; lodicules 3; stamens 3, exceptionally as many as 6; style 1; stigmas 2-3. Caryposis oval or narrowly oblong, smooth, furrowed on the back, at maturity remaining enclosed within the lemma and palea.