This native perennial plant is 1½3½' tall and unbranched or little branched. The slender culm is light green, hairless, and round in cross-section. The blades of the alternate leaves are up to 10' long and 1' across; they are linear-lanceolate, light green, flat, and mostly hairless. However, there is often a small tuft of white hairs at the base of the leaf blade near the ligule. The sheaths of the leaves are light green and hairless. The culm terminates in a panicle of spikelets about 4-12' long and half as much across; pedicels of the spikelets are very slender and nodding. Each spikelet is about 1' long and 1/3' across; it is flattened, light green, and mostly hairless. Sometimes the spikelets are tinted light purple toward their margins and at the tips of their lemmas. Each spikelet consists of 2 glumes and several pairs of lemmas. The glumes at the base of the spikelet are linear in shape and keeled, while the lemmas are linear-lanceolate and keeled. The lemmas are about 1/3' long and slightly longer than the glumes. The lower lemmas are often sterile. Each flower has a single stamen. The spikelets turn brown at maturity and eventually disarticulate above the glumes. The blooming period occurs from mid-summer to early fall. The root system produces rhizomes, and vegetative colonies are sometimes formed.