Annuals or perennials. Rhizome creeping, or short, with or without stolons. Stem from 10 cm to more than 2 m, terete or trigonous, smooth. Leaves mostly reduced to 2-3, soft, ephemeral sheaths; ligule probably allways present. Inflorescence pseudolateral, from group of spikes to anthelodium; lowest bract forming continuation to stem, erect or later often spreading, or reflexed. Glumes spirally arranged. Flowers bisexual, with or without perianth bristles, bristles retrorsely barbed or plumose, stamens 2-3, stigmas 2 or 3. Nut trigonous or bi-convex, compressed, surface transversely rugulose or smooth; amphicarpous nuts present in some groups.
Resembling Scirpus s. str. and Actinoscirpus, but leaf blades reduced and inflorescence smaller, pseudolateral; perianth bristles present or missing.