This grass is a spring annual that develops either individual or tufted leafy culms about 1½-3' tall. The hollow culms are light green, glabrous, and terete; they are largely hidden by the sheaths. A few alternate leaves occur along the entire length of each culm. The blades of these leaves are up to 15 mm. across and 12' long; both the blades and the sheaths are medium green to blue-green, glabrous, and sometimes glaucous. The ligules are white-membranous. Each culm terminates in a panicle of spikelets about 4-10' long. The lateral branches of the panicle occur in whorls of 2-5 along its central stalk (rachis). These lateral branches divide into whorls of pedicels that terminate in individual nodding spikelets. Some whorled pedicels are attached to the upper half of the central stalk. Each spikelet consists of a pair of glumes about ¾-1' in length, a pair of lemmas about ½-¾' in length, and their florets. Both the glumes and lemmas are light green, elliptic in shape, and convex along their outer surfaces. The glumes have 7-11 prominent longitudinal veins, while the veins of the lemmas are more obscure. Usually the lemmas are awnless, otherwise they have fairly straight awns up to 1¼' in length. In each spikelet, the lemmas are largely hidden by the glumes. Each floret has 3 anthers and a pair of feathery stigmata. The blooming period occurs from late spring to mid-summer and lasts 1-2 weeks. The florets are either cross-pollinated by the wind or self-fertile. The florets of the lemmas develop into ripened grains later in the summer or fall. These grains are narrowly ellipsoid and narrowly furrowed along one side; they are a little shorter than the lemmas. The root system is shallow and fibrous.