Plants occasionally rhizomatous. Culms 25-110 cm, sometimes geniculate. Ligules to 1.5 mm; blades 1.5-6 mm wide, glabrous or pubescent. Spikes 1.3-10.5(15) cm long, 5-25 mm wide, narrowly to broadly lanceolate, rectangular, or ovate, sometimes tapering distally; internodes (0.2)0.7-5(8) mm, glabrous or pilose, sometimes all more or less equal, sometimes short and long internodes alternating within a spike, basal internodes often longer than those at midlength. Spikelets 7-16 mm, diverging at angles of 30-95° at maturity, with 3-6(8) florets. Glumes 3-6 mm, glabrous or with coarse hairs on the keels, acute, usually awned, awns 1.5-3 mm; lemmas 5-9 mm, glabrous or with hairs, keeled, keels sometimes scabrous distally, apices acute, usually awned, awns 1-6 mm; anthers 3-5 mm. 2n = 14, 28, 42.
Used to rejuvenate burned or overgrazed areas. It's invasive, particularly in the USA and Canada.