Plants with C4 photosynthesis, annual or perennial,
forming tufts or mats. Flowering stems erect to spreading, often ascending from
spreading bases, sometimes rooting at the lowermost nodes, glabrous. Leaf
sheaths glabrous or hairy, keeled, the ligule a short membrane, usually with an
uneven or irregularly toothed margin. Leaf blades flat, hairy or glabrous.
Inflorescences of several spikelike racemes, these arranged digitately at the
tip of the main inflorescence axis or nearly so, or in a panicle with a short
main axis, or (in D. cognata) the inflorescence an open, highly branched
panicle with individual, long‑stalked spikelets. Spikelike racemes (when
present) appearing 1‑sided, with the spikelets occurring in 2 rows along
1 side of the narrowly or broadly winged axis, the axis with a spikelet at the
tip. Spikelets not subtended by bristles or spines, without a cuplike ring or
knoblike disk at the base. Lower glume absent or minute and triangular, often
shed prior to flowering. Upper glume shorter than to about as long as the rest
of the spikelet, not inflated or saclike at the base, bluntly to sharply
pointed at the tip, awnless, 3‑ or 5‑nerved, glabrous or more
commonly hairy. Lowermost floret sterile, the palea absent or highly reduced,
the lemma about as long as the rest of the spikelet, bluntly to sharply pointed
at the tip, awnless, 5‑nerved, glabrous or more commonly hairy. Fertile
(perfect) floret with the lemma about as long as that of the staminate or
sterile floret, bluntly to sharply pointed at the tip, awnless, nerveless or
very faintly 3‑nerved, glabrous, dull, somewhat thickened and leathery
(not bonelike), but with thinner, lighter‑colored, relatively flat
margins, often only slightly wrapped around the palea and fruit. Paleas
glabrous, dull, somewhat thickened and leathery, but with thinner margins.
Fruits oblong‑elliptic in outline, white to brown. About 220 species,
nearly worldwide, mostly in tropical and subtropical regions.
A number of species of Digitaria are important as
weeds of lawns, crop fields, and grassland communities.