Annual or perennial (often short-lived), tufted. Leaf blade linear, flat or folded, tapering, acute; ligule a narrow, fringed membrane. Inflorescence terminal, solitary (rarely paired), dense, 1-sided spike, often ciliate or villous; spikelets solitary or paired, subsessile, alternate in 2 rows on a tough rachis. Spikelet cuneate, laterally compressed, disarticulating above glumes, not between florets; glumes +/- equal, nearly to as long as spikelet, similar, membranous, glabrous, 1-nerved, acute, acuminate, awnless or awn-tipped from near apex; upper glume +/- equal to spikelet (excluding awns). Florets 4-7, lowerflorets bisexual, upper florets sterile and reduced to clavate lemmas; sterile lemma glabrous to rarely hairy, awnless; fertile lemma firmer in texture than glumes, coriaceous, keeled, 3-5-nerved, usually hairy on lateral nerves and keel, entire or 2-lobed, with a subterminal central awn; awn 3-11 mm long, straight; callus acute, hairy; palea ciliolate on keels. Lodicules 2, +/- oblong, glabrous. Stamens 3. Ovary oblong, glabrous; styles distinct, plumose above. Caryopsis (achene) oblong; pericarp loose. x = 10.
Species 5, Middle East, India and Africa; 1 in sthn Afr.: Tetrapogon tenellus (Roxb.) Chiov., N Namibia, Mpumalanga and Northern Province.

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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