Annual or perennial, tufted, sometimes decumbent, rhizomatous and stoloniferous, often creeping. Leaf blade expanded, pectinate-ciliate on margins; ligule a short, fringed membrane or a fringe of hairs. Inflorescence stiff, dense, cylindrical, spike-like; spikelets in subsessile deciduous clusters, each cluster composed of 2-5 spikelets on a reduced peduncle, sometimes peduncles long; spikelets of a cluster all alike or upper +/- reduced. Spikelet dorsiventrally compressed, lanceolate to ovate, falling in clusters with glumes; glumes unequal, dissimilar, awnless; lower glume a minute scale or suppressed; upper glume as long as spikelet, 5-7-nerved, nerves formed into prominent ribs bearing hooked, curved or straight prickles. Floret 1, bisexual; lemma almost as long as upper glume, membranous, entire, 3-nerved, awnless; palea as long as lemma, 2-nerved. Lodicules 2, broad, cuneate. Stamens 3. Ovary glabrous; styles distinct, plumose above. Caryopsis ellipsoid to oblong, slightly dorsiventrally compressed. x= 10 (polyploidy).
Species 7, throughout tropics but mainly Africa; 4 in sthn Afr., widespread in disturbed areas.
Perennial or annual, tufted, sometimes decumbent at base, stoloniferous, sometimes rooting from nodes; culms decumbent, more rarely erect. Leaf blade and sheaths usually bearing gland-tipped hairs, often viscid; ligule a fringe of hairs. Inflorescence a panicle, open or contracted; spikelets solitary, shortly pedicelled to subsessile. Spikelet slightly laterally compressed, disarticulating above glumes; glumes unequal to +/- equal, +/- as long as spikelet, similar, membranous, green or grey, glabrous or hairy, hairs sometimes glandular, lanceolate, 7-11(14)-nerved, awnless. Florets 4-9, bisexual; upper 1 or 2 florets usually reduced and sterile; lemma dorsally rounded, firmer than glumes, 9-nerved, subcoriaceous, dorsally long-villous towards base, usually scabrid, 6-lobed, lobes alternating with 5 straight, scabrid awns from between lobes; callus minute, pointed, hairy; palea longer than lemma, oblong or elliptic-oblong, 2-keeled, with narrow flaps, stiffly ciliate along keels, cilia very often with interspersed glandular-tipped hairs. Lodicules 2, minute, cuneate, truncate or often with apex shallowly bilobed with gland-tipped hairs. Stamens 3. Ovary glabrous; styles distinct, plumose. Caryopsis ellipsoid. x= 9 (polyploidy).
Species 2, Africa and Pakistan; 2 in sthn Afr., widespread.
Annual or perennial, tufted, stoloniferous. Leafblade expanded or rolled, glabrous; ligule a fringe of hairs. Inflorescence a panicle, contracted or spike-like; spikelets solitary, shortly pedicelled. Spikelet 4-7 mm long, slightly laterally compressed, disarticulating above glumes or falling with glumes; glumes +/- equal, shorter than to as long as spikelet, membranous, margins hyaline, 5-7-nerved, glabrous, awnless. Florets 4-10, bisexual; upper floret reduced; lemma 1.8-3.0 mm long, similar in texture to glumes, with hyaline margins, 7-9-nerved, glabrous or hairy on back or margins, hairs sometimes in tufts, 2-lobed or minutely notched (emarginate), awnless or mucronate or awned from between lobes; awn short, straight; callus short; palea +/- equalling lemma, obovate, 2-keeled, 2-nerved, hyaline, glabrous or sometimes pilose. Lodicules 2, ciliate. Stamens 3. Ovary subglobose, glabrous; styles distinct, plumose above. Caryopsis ellipsoid. x= 6.
Species 5, Africa, Mediterranean region to northwest India; 4 in sthn Afr., Free State, Northern, Western and Eastern Cape.
Pedicelled spikelet strongly dorsiventrally compressed, flat; lower glume usually distinctly nerved, male or sterile; lemma awnless. x= 10 (17, 20).
Species 7, Africa, India and Australia; 2 in sthn Afr.: Sehima galpinii Stent from northern provinces of South Africa to N KwaZulu-Natal, and S . ischaemoides Forssk. in Grootfontein area of Namibia and in N Botswana.
Annual or perennial, tufted. Leaf blade linear, expanded or rolled, flaccid; ligule an unfringed membrane. Inflorescence a bristly single spike; spikelets solitary, sessile, distichously imbricate on main axis. Spikelet 10-15 mm long, laterally compressed, falling with glumes (not disarticulating in cultivated species); glumes narrow, unequal, +/- as long as spikelet (excluding awns), strongly keeled, acuminate to awned, upper glume 1-nerved. Florets 2 or 3, bisexual or uppermost floret reduced and sterile; lemma oblong, lanceolate, glabrous, strongly keeled with single median keel on back, 5-nerved, nerves apically nonconfluent, awned; awn usually obvious, straight, glabrous; palea 2-keeled, bidentate, almost equalling lemma. Lodicules 2, hyaline, ciliate. Stamens 3. Ovary obovoid, hairy; styles distinct, plumose above. x= 7.
Species +/- 5, Mediterranean, E Europe to central Asia; 1 in sthn Afr.: Secaleafricanum Stapf, 'Wild Rye', Western Cape (Roggeveld area).