Caespitose, with creeping rhizomes; stems 60-200 cm, erect, usually rather stout, with 2-4 nodes, usually rough beneath panicle, smooth elsewhere. Leaves 4-20 mm wide, flat or weakly convolute; upper surface scabrid, with close-set veins; ligule 4-12 mm, acute, becoming lacerate. Panicle 15-30 × 3-6 cm, erect, dense or more or less patent; branches aculeolate. Spikelets 4-10 mm, silvery-grey to brownish-purple. Glumes subequal or the lower slightly the longer, narrowly lanceolate, aculeolate on keel. Lemma 3-veined, 2-fid; awn short, but exceeding lemma, arising from middle of lemma or above.