Annuals or perennials. Leaves never aromatic. Inflorescence composed of paired racemes, each pair borne on a common peduncle and subtended by a sheathing spatheole, these crowded together into a large leafy false panicle. Racemes borne on a stalk (raceme-base) which may be deflexed at maturity; each raceme with up to 2 of the lowermost pairs male or barren, awnless and tardily deciduous (homogamous pairs). Rhachis internodes and pedicels linear. Sessile spikelet dorsally flattened or terete; callus obtuse to pungent, applied obliquely to the apex of the internode; lower glume coriaceous, broadly convex across the back; upper glume awnless; lower floret reduced to a hyaline lemma; upper lemma 2-dentate bearing an awn between the teeth. Pedicellate spikelet male or barren, usually a little longer than the sessile spikelet, awnless or with a minute arista from the lower glume.