Annuals. Leaves commonly inrolled. Inflorescence a panicle. Spikelets laterally compressed, 2-flowered, the upper virtually sessile, both florets bisexual; glumes persistent, 1–3-nerved, subequal, membranous, equal to or longer than florets; lemma 5-nerved, bifid at apex, dorsally awned from below midway or sometimes the lower or both florets awnless; awn geniculate, twisted in lower part; palea shorter than lemma. Florets falling as a unit at maturity.
27 species, from Europe, the Mediterranean, northern Africa and western Asia; 5 naturalised in Australia, 4 in Victoria.
Specimens are often difficult to assign with confidence to the species listed below. Apparent intermediates may be the result of hybridization, but the frequency with which these are encountered suggests that a broader concept of fewer species (possibly with recognition of infraspecific taxa) would result in a more workable taxonomy.