Annual, tufted or culm solitary. Leaf blade linear, flat or rolled; sheaths rather loose, smooth and glabrous; ligule an unfringed membrane. Inflorescence a panicle, spike-like or open, rarely a raceme; spikelets pedicelled, +/- secund. Spikelet 6-20 mm long, laterally compressed, usually disarticulating above glumes; glumes unequal, usually shorter than spikelet, dissimilar, rounded on back, awnless or awned; lower glume sometimes minute, 0-1-nerved; upper glume 1-3-nerved, acute to acuminate. Florets 2-many, bisexual, sometimes upper ones reduced to lemma; lemma tapered, 3-5-nerved, entire, awned; awn median, apical, straight, more than half as long as to longer than body of lemma; callus short, glabrous; palea 2-keeled, hyaline. Lodicules 2, unequally lobed. Stamens 1 or 2, rarely 3. Ovary glabrous or minutely hairy at apex. Caryopsis linear or ellipsoid. x= 7 (polyploidy).
Species +/- 23, temperate regions, mostly Mediterranean; 4 naturalised in sthn Afr., Mpumalanga, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Lesotho, 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