Perennial, rarely annual herbs, usually rhizomatous, often tufted. Leaves either all radical or both radical and few cauline, flat to cylindrical, glabrous, with or with-out transverse septa, sheaths open, auricled or not. Inflorescence terminal or seemingly lateral with the basal bract often leaf-like and apparently continuous with the stem; floral bracts much smaller, hyaline to submembranous. Flowers small, clustered, few or solitary, sessile or subsessile, often brownish or greenish. Perianth segments 6, glumaceous, equal or the inner ones shorter. Stames 6 or 3, free or somewhat connate to the base of perianth segments, filaments filiform, usually longer than anthers. Capsule often brown, shortly to conspicuously beaked, 1.3-celled; seeds minute, usually many on parietal placentas, generally confined to the middle of the valves, ovoid to oblong, faintly to conspicuously striate, yellowish to brownish, sometimes tailed, often mucilaginous on wetting.