Perennial, tufted, rhizomatous or stoloniferous. Leaf blade flat or folded, rigid; ligule a minute fringe of hairs. Inflorescence of (1)2 or 3 long, 1-sided, persistent, spike-like racemes, subdigitate; rachis keeled on face, flattened dorsally, elongated at tip into a sharp point; spikelets solitary, subsessile, 2-ranked on rachis. Spikelet 12-15 mm long, strongly laterally compressed, falling entire at maturity; glumes very unequal, dissimilar, softly and shortly hairy, keeled, shortly awned or awnless; lower glume linear, acute or obtuse, 1-nerved; upper glume membranous or subcoriaceous, 3-nerved. Floret 1, bisexual; lemma oblong, membranous, keeled, minutely hairy upwards, 1-nerved, awnless; palea equalling lemma, 2-nerved, hyaline. Lodicules often 0. Stamens 3. Ovary glabrous; styles long, connate at base, plumose above. Caryopsis fusiform. x= 7, 10 (high polyploidy).
Species +/- 16, temperate America, coastal Europe and Africa; 1 in sthn Afr.: Spartinamaritima (Curtis) Fernald, Namibia and shores of Western and Eastern Cape.
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