Annual or perennial, tufted, sometimes decumbent, rhizomatous and stoloniferous, often creeping. Leaf blade expanded, pectinate-ciliate on margins; ligule a short, fringed membrane or a fringe of hairs. Inflorescence stiff, dense, cylindrical, spike-like; spikelets in subsessile deciduous clusters, each cluster composed of 2-5 spikelets on a reduced peduncle, sometimes peduncles long; spikelets of a cluster all alike or upper +/- reduced. Spikelet dorsiventrally compressed, lanceolate to ovate, falling in clusters with glumes; glumes unequal, dissimilar, awnless; lower glume a minute scale or suppressed; upper glume as long as spikelet, 5-7-nerved, nerves formed into prominent ribs bearing hooked, curved or straight prickles. Floret 1, bisexual; lemma almost as long as upper glume, membranous, entire, 3-nerved, awnless; palea as long as lemma, 2-nerved. Lodicules 2, broad, cuneate. Stamens 3. Ovary glabrous; styles distinct, plumose above. Caryopsis ellipsoid to oblong, slightly dorsiventrally compressed. x= 10 (polyploidy).
Species 7, throughout tropics but mainly Africa; 4 in sthn Afr., widespread in disturbed areas.

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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