Annuals or perennials. Leaf-blades linear; ligule very short, membranous, ciliate on the upper edge. Inflorescence a single raceme, these arising terminally and in the axils, sometimes loosely aggregated into a false panicle; racemes with homogamous spikelets for the lower quarter to two-thirds of their length; inter-nodes linear. Sessile spikelets terete; callus pungent; lower glume coriaceous, convex, sometimes longitudinally grooved, obtuse; lower floret reduced to a hyaline lemma; upper lemma stipitiform, passing directly into a hairy awn; palea absent; caryopsis lanceolate, channelled on one side. Pedicelled spikelet male or barren, lanceolate, larger than the sessile, awnless, with a long slender callus functioning as a pedicel (the true pedicel reduced to a small stump).