This grass is a summer annual that branches at the base to form a small tuft of leafy culms. In open areas, the slender culms are erect, ascending, or widely spreading; they are 1½–2' long, terete, light green, and hairless. The blades of the alternate leaves are up to 6" long and ½" across; they are light to medium dull green and hairless. Their margins are usually flat and entire, occasionally curving upward and becoming minutely wavy. The open sheaths are light to medium green like the leaves, but slightly more shiny; they wrap around the culms loosely. At the base, the sheaths are often purplish, while their margins are ciliate. At the junction of each blade and sheath, the ligule is defined by a ring of white hairs.