Culms 18-145 cm tall, 0.6-4.8 mm thick, erect to decumbent, sometimes
matted. Ligules of larger cauline leaves 2-9 mm, truncate or acute
to attenuate; widest cauline blades 1.5-17.5 mm wide. Panicles (3)5-25
cm long, (1)1.8-16 cm wide, 1-5.75(7.5) times as long as wide, narrowly
to widely conic, ovoid, or obovoid; lowermost branches stiff to
flexuous, reflexed to erect at maturity. Spikelets 3.6-6.9 mm; florets 2-8. Lower
glumes 0.7-2.1 mm; upper glumes 0.9-2.7 mm; lemmas 2-3.6
mm, truncate to acute; anthers 0.3-1.5 mm. 2n = 14.
All three varieties of Torreyochloa pallida grow in swamps, marshes, bogs, and the margins of lakes and streams. They are usually morphologically distinct and tend to have different geographic ranges.
Deam (1929): In Indiana this species grows in stagnant water in ponds, swamps, and swampy places in marshes, that usually dry up sometime during the summer months. It is frequently associated with Glyceria septentrionalis but occupies a zone beyond it in deeper water. The flowering of these species is retarded by deep water and hastened when the water recedes. This species is usually only in flower when G. septentrionalis is fruiting.