Annuals or perennials. Leaf-blades flat; ligules relatively large, membranous or papery. Inflorescence an ovoid to cylindric panicle, usually dense and unlobed. Spikelets strongly laterally compressed, 2–3-flowered, the lower 1–2 florets reduced to small lemmas, upper floret bisexual; glumes 2, longer than lemmas, strongly 3–5-nerved, often winged on the keel; fertile lemma 3–5-nerved, hardened and shining; palea keeled, hardened, 1-nerved.
16 species, from temperate zones in the Northern Hemisphere and South America; 8 naturalised in Australia, all present in Victoria.