Perennial or rarely annual, tufted; culm usually branched from lower nodes, often geniculate. Leaf blade expanded or frequently involute; ligule a narrow, fringed membrane or a fringe of hairs. Inflorescence a panicle, open, diffuse, usually much divided; spikelets pedicelled. Spikelet symmetrically oblong in profile, laterally compressed; glumes unequal, very dissimilar, with distinct, elongated internode between glumes, awnless, rarely minutely mucronate; lower glume usually a minute, ovate scale, rarely well developed, 0-1-nerved; upper glume as long as spikelet, narrower than lower lemma, usually slightly notched at apex, 3-5-nerved. Florets 2; lower floret male; lemma similar to upper glume but wider and slightly longer, finely 3-7-nerved; upper floret bisexual; lemma firmer than glumes, smaller than lower lemma, dorsally compressed, glabrous, smooth, glossy, brittle, white, readily deciduous, margins flat and partly clasping palea, awnless; palea subequalling lemma, hyaline, 2-nerved. Lodicules 2. Stamens 3. Ovary ellipsoid; styles free or connate at base, plumose above. Caryopsis ovoid to elliptic-oblong. x= 9 (polyploidy).
Species 4, mainly Africa, also from the Canaries, Mediterranean and Madagascar; 2 in sthn Afr., widespread, not recorded from Lesotho, Western and Eastern Cape.