Plants perennial; cespitose, sometimes rhizomatous. Culms 20-203 cm, solitary or clustered, often rooting at the lower nodes, usually glabrous. Sheaths open, glabrous; auricles absent; ligules scarious; blades flat, margins scabrous, surfaces scabrous or smooth. Inflorescences panicles; branches spreading to ascending; disarticulation below the glumes. Pedicels slightly flared, scabrous to smooth. Spikelets laterally compressed, with 1(2) floret(s); rachillas usually prolonged beyond the florets as a minute stub or bristle, smooth or scabridulous. Glumes from slightly shorter than to slightly longer than the florets, 1-or 3-veined, margins hyaline, keels scabrous, apices acute, sometimes minutely awn-tipped; lower glumes from somewhat shorter than to equaling the upper glumes; florets sessile or stipitate; calluses blunt, glabrous; lemmas 3- or 5-veined, veins often obscure, apices acute, minutely bifid, usually with a short, subterminal awn; paleas 3/4 to nearly as long as the lemmas, 1-veined or with 2 closely spaced veins; anthers 1 or 2. Caryopses often beaked. x = 7. Name of uncertain origin.
Spikelets 1-fld, articulated below the glumes; glumes nearly equal, herbaceous or scarious-margined, linear to narrowly lanceolate, acute or acuminate, 1-3-veined; lemma herbaceous, about equaling the second glume, 3-veined, bearing a short straight awn just below the tip, distinctly stipitate above the glumes; palea 1-keeled; rachilla prolonged as a minute bristle behind the palea; anthers 2 or (our spp.) 1; tall perennials with wide, flat lvs, elongate, membranous ligule, and ample panicles of small spikelets. 5, N. and S. Amer., temp. Eurasia.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.