Perennials with long-creeping rhizomes with subglobose woody tubers. Culms triquetrous to trigonous, usually several-noded, leafy, solitary from tuber. Leaves numerous, well-developed, coriaceous, with margins and midribs scabrous towards the apex; ligule absent; lower sheaths often septate-nodulose. Inflorescence with a basal cluster of sessile spikelets plus several smooth branches, or sometimes head-like; lower involucral bracts leafy, several longer than inflorescence. Spikelets ovoid to cylindric, with numerous bisexual flowers; glumes spirally arranged, pubescent, with laciniate apex and long excurved awn; hypogynous bristles 6, retrorsely scabrous, sometimes deciduous; stamens 3; style 2- or 3-fid, not enlarged at base, deciduous. Nut trigonous or biconvex, obovoid.
Cosmopolitan, with c. 16 species world-wide; 4 species in Australia.