Perennial (sometimes short-lived) or annual, densely tufted, sometimes shrubs or dwarf shrubs, erect to geniculate, often with a well developed knotty rhizomatous base. Leaf blade usually long and narrow; ligule a dense fringe of hairs. Inflorescence a narrow or open panicle, sometimes spike-like, often interrupted; spikelets solitary or in fascicles, pedicelled. Spikelet disarticulating above glumes; glumes +/- equal or unequal, narrow, as long as to longer than spikelet, 3-11-nerved, glabrous or hairy, obtuse to acuminate, awnless; lower glume usually 3-nerved. Floret 1, bisexual; lemma narrow, cylindrical, firmer than glumes, ventrally grooved or margins involute, indurated at maturity, 3-awned, appearing as 1 awn with 3 branches due to fusion, rarely solitary as laterals reduced; awns with or without a column, all, or only central awn plumose or with a pencil of hairs at apex of column, articulation present at or above middle of lemma or between base of column and body of lemma, or 0; callus well developed, pungent or minutely bifid, usually oblique, bearded or glabrous; palea usually much less than half as long as lemma, indurated, 2-nerved, glabrous. Lodicules usually 2, or 0, obtuse. Stamens 3. Ovary glabrous; styles free, plumose above. x= 11 (polyploidy).
Species +/- 50, Africa, NW India and SW Asia; 29 in sthn Afr., widespread.
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