Annuals or perennials. Leaf-blades flat or folded, sometimes pleated: ligule usually a ciliate rim. Inflorescence a panicle, open or spike-like, the spikelets (or only the terminal) subtended by 1 or more bristles which persist on the axis after the spikelets fall. Spikelets oblong to ovate, ± plano-convex, awnless, the lower glume abaxial; glumes unequal, the lower generally much smaller, ovate from a clasping base; lower floret male or barren, as long as the spikelet, herbaceous; upper floret bisexual, its lemma crustaceous, strongly convex on the back, often rugose, clasping only the margins of the palea. Caryopsis oblong or ellipsoid.