Plants perennial; cespitose, softly pilose throughout. Culms 25-70 cm, ascending or erect from hard knotty bases. Sheaths pilose, rounded on the backs; blades flat, linear; microhairs of blades each with an elongated basal cell and an inflated terminal cell. Inflorescences terminal, open, rather narrow panicles; disarticulation above the glumes and between the florets. Spikelets with 6-10 florets, distal florets reduced. Glumes subequal, about as long as the lowest lemmas, pilose, 7-13-veined, midveins sometimes prolonged as short awns, apices acuminate or 3-toothed; lemmas rounded on the backs, with 9-13 prominent veins, some of these extending into antrorsely barbed awns of various lengths, others into awned teeth, awns and teeth not forming a pappuslike crown; paleas slightly longer than the lemmas, 2-veined, 2-keeled, keels hairy; anthers 3. Cleistogamous spikelets, usually consisting of a single floret, produced in the lower sheaths. x = 10. Named for J.G. Cotta von Cottendorf (1796-1863), a German science patron.