Annuals or perennials. Inflorescence a single terminal raceme; rhachis internodes and pedicels stoutly linear to subclavate. Spikelets markedly different; the sessile spikelet fertile, the pedicellate male or barren. Sessile spikelet: callus obtuse, inserted into the concave apex of the internode; lower glume coriaceous, laterally 2-keeled or lyrate, 2-fid at apex; upper glume awned; lower floret male with a palea present; upper (fertile) lemma awned from between the sinus. Pedicellate spikelet large, dorsally flattened, distinctively lyrate-nerved.