Perennials, rarely annuals. Inflorescence a contracted, often spike-like panicle. Spikelets 3-flowered, laterally flattened, disarticulating above the glumes and below the fertile florets. Lowest floret bisexual; second male or sterile, third reduced, often only a tuft of awns.
Glumes persistent, 3-5(-7)-nerved, equal or subequal, membranous; upper as long as the lower lemma. Lemma of the lowest floret 9-nerved, with 9 ciliate awns, dorsally rounded, densely villous (at least below the middle); awns scaberulous or plumose, 3-5 times as long as the body of the lemma.
Worldwide: 28 species in the tropics and subtropics, especially Africa and Australia
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