Tufted or stoloniferous annuals or perennials. Leaf-blades flat or folded; ligules membranous. Inflorescence an umbel of spikes (or rarely, the spikes alternate or verticillate along the axis) or spike-like racemes with spikelets arranged in 2 rows along one side of each of the rays of the umbel. Spikelets sessile or subsessile, with 1(–2), bisexual florets below, and 1–several male and/or sterile florets above; glumes 2, unequal, 1-nerved, keeled, persistent; fertile lemma 1–5-nerved, laterally compressed, awned from the base of an apical notch; sterile lemmas awned or awnless.
About 40 species, from tropical and warm-temperate countries; 11 in Australia, 6 or 7 of them native, 4 in Victoria.