Annuals or perennials, often tall but sometimes delicate. Leaf-blades linear, acute or obtuse at the tip; ligule membranous to scarious. Inflorescence composed of single racemes usually arranged in a spatheate false panicle, but sometimes solitary at the tip of the culm; racemes slender; internodes and pedicels linear to clavate. Sessile spikelet linear to lanceolate; callus obtuse, inserted into the crateriform and scariously rimmed tip of the internode; lower glume thinly chartaceous to subcoriaceous, convex to concave on the back, 2-keeled (or at least sharply inflexed), the keels ± frontal, with several intercarinal nerves; lower floret reduced to a hyaline lemma; upper lemma hyaline, often stipitiform, shortly bilobed or deeply bifid (very rarely entire), with a glabrous awn from the sinus (very rarely awnless); palea small or absent; caryopsis linear, subterete. Pedicelled spikelet male or barren, commonly smaller than the sessile.