Plants caespitose, sometimes forming tall, slender tussocks. Rhizomes often well developed, sometimes short. Culms simple, very rarely branching, often with clusters of sterile shoots at nodes in the year after flowering. Leaf sheaths persistent, closely convolute, apical half often becoming lacerate. Maleinflorescence of many pendulous, cylindrical spikelets. Malespikelets: bracts chartaceous, many, all fertile; perianth compressed; perianth segments 6, outer lateral ones boat-shaped, keeled, usually longer than inner; anthers exserted at anthesis. Femaleinflorescence differing from male, of 1-several larger, stiffly erect spikelets; spathes generally small. Femalespikelets: bracts cartilaginous, longer than florets, all fertile; perianth segments 6, cartilaginous, persistent, outer lateral ones keeled or winged; staminodes well developed; ovary 1-locular; style 1, densely brush-like, exserted from bracts at anthesis. Fruit a soft-walled nutlet.
Species +/- 33, mostly Western Cape, also Eastern Cape, from Clanwilliam to Uitenhage; Thamnochortusinsignis Mast., is of major economic importance for thatching.