Arborescent, shrubby or rarely climbing bamboos, sometimes thorny; culms arising from a thick rhizome, usually caespitose, occasionally stoloniferous. Culmsheaths variable, usually broad; imperfect blade broad, triangular. Leaf-blades shortly petiolate. Inflorescence usually a large leafless compound panicle bearing spikelets in heads on spicate branchiets, sometimes in leafy panicles or paniculate spikes. Spikelets with 1-several fertile florets usually subtended by 1 or more glume-like bracts in addition to the glumes; lemma ovate-lanceolate, usually mucronate; palea 2-keeled, the keels ciliate or not, the apex usually entire; lodicules 3, membranous, generally obtuse, ciliate; stamens 6; style 1; stigmas 1-3. Caryopsis oblong or linear-oblong, acute or obtuse, furrowed on one side; pericarp thin, adherent.