Annual or perennial, tufted or decumbent, sometimes rhizomatous, stoloniferous, sometimes geniculate. Leafblade expanded, rolled or folded; apex often boat-shaped; ligule an unfringed or rarely a fringed membrane. Inflorescence a panicle, open and often effuse or contracted; spikelets solitary, pedicelled, pedicels swollen at apex. Spikelets 3-6 mm long, laterally compressed, disarticulating above glumes, sometimes viviparous; glumes usually +/- equal, rarely unequal, shorter than spikelet, similar, membranous, ovate or oblong, acute to obtuse, with median keel, awnless, mucronate or rarely awned; lower glume 1-3-nerved; upper glume usually 3-nerved. Florets 2-6, bisexual or uppermost reduced; lemmas decreasing in size upwards, similar in texture to glumes, membranous, lanceolate or oblong, obtuse or subacute, 5-7(-11)-nerved, entire, median-keeled, keel glabrous or hairy, especially towards base, usually awnless, rarely mucronate or awned; callus often with long woolly hairs; palea subequalling lemma, 2-keeled, thinner in texture than lemma. Lodicules 2, +/- 2-lobed. Stamens 3. Ovary glabrous; styles distinct, plumose. Caryopsis ellipsoid to ovoid. x= 7 (aneuploids, high polyploidy).
Species +/- 500, cosmopolitan; 6 in sthn Afr., 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