Perennial, small, densely tufted, cushion-forming, leaves mainly basal. Leaf blade rolled, folded or flat; ligule a short, fringed, hyaline membrane. Inflorescence a solitary, slender, straight or gradually curved terminal spike; spikelets sessile, solitary, closely or loosely 2-ranked on opposite or subopposite sides of rachis, +/- embedded in rachis; rachis tough or fracturing tardily in segments of 1-4(8) spikelets. Spikelet 2.5-4.5 mm long, laterally compressed; glumes of terminal spikelet equal and similar; glumes of lateral spikelets unequal, dissimilar, awnless; lower glume suppressed or reduced; upper glume narrowly lanceolate to lanceolate, rigid except at hyaline margins, subacute to acuminate, (1-)3-nerved. Floret 1, (rarely 2), bisexual; lemma oblong or lanceolate, membranous, distinctly or obscurely keeled, at least in upper part, finely 1-3-nerved, hairy along nerves, truncate or minutely 3-lobed, mucronate; palea equalling lemma, faintly 2-nerved. Lodicules 2, minute, cuneate. Stamens 3; anthers minute. Ovary glabrous; styles slender, distinct, plumose. Caryopsis ellipsoid-oblong. x = 10 (polyploidy).
Species 3-6, dry areas of India and Africa; 1 in sthn Afr.: Oropetium capense Stapf, widespread.

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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith