Perennial or annual, tufted, rhizomatous. Leaf blade linear, expanded, folded or rolled; ligule an unfringed or fringed membrane. Inflorescence an open or contracted panicle, often linear or oblong; spikelets all alike, pedicelled. Spikelet 5-17 mm long, usually terete, laterally to not noticeably compressed, disarticulating above glumes, without rachilla extension; glumes +/- equal to unequal, as long as to longer than spikelet, not gibbous, similar, awned or awnless, 1 -7-nerved, equal to longer than spikelet. Floret 1; lemma firmer in texture than glumes, thickly membranous to coriaceous, becoming indurated, rounded on back, margins slightly overlapping, involute or open, entire or bilobed, 3-7-nerved, awned from sinus or apical, not off-centre; awn usually conspicuous, longer than body of lemma, extending beyond glumes, geniculate, column twisted, sometimes hairy; callus pungent or rarely obtuse, hairy; palea not keeled, 2-nerved, at least half as long as lemma. Lodicules 2 or 3, glabrous. Stamens 3. Ovary glabrous; stigmas rarely 3. Caryopsis fusiform. x= 9, 10, 11, 12, 22 (aneuploids, high polyploidy).
Species +/- 300, tropical and temperate regions of both hemispheres; +/- 5 (2 indigenous) in sthn Afr., northern provinces of South Africa, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Northern, Western and Eastern Cape.

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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