Plants annual or perennial; tufted, stoloniferous, or rhizomatous. Culms 5-115(160) cm, erect or decumbent, often rooting at the lower nodes, not branching above the base. Sheaths not overlapping, open, keeled; auricles absent; ligulesmembranous, membranous and ciliate, or of hairs; blades flat or involute. Inflorescences terminal, panicles of 2-11, digitately arranged spicate branches; branches with axes 0.8-11 cm long, extending beyond the spikelets, terminating in a point, the spikelets imbricate in 2 rows on the lower sides. Spikelets with 3-7 bisexual florets, additional sterile florets distally; disarticulationusually above the glumes, the florets falling as a unit. Glumes unequal, shorter than the adjacent lemmas, 1-veined, keeled; lower glumes acute, mucronate; upper glumes subapically awned, awns curved; calluses glabrous; lemmas membranous, glabrous, 3-veined (lateral veins sometimes indistinct), strongly keeled, apices entire, mucronate, or awned; paleas glabrous; anthers 3, yellow; ovaries glabrous; styles fused. Fruit utricles; seeds falling free of the hyaline pericarp, transversely rugose or granular. x = 10. Name from the Greek daktylos, finger, and ktenion, a little comb, describing the comblike inflorescence branches.
Spikelets crowded, divergent, flattened, few-fld, articulated between the glumes; glumes very broad, compressed and keeled, 1-veined, the first awnless, the second with a stout awn just below the rounded tip; lemmas broadly ovate, compressed and keeled, 3-veined, abruptly acuminate to a short awn-like point; grain subglobose, rugose, furrowed on one side; annuals with usually overlapping sheaths, flat blades, and sessile digitate spikes, the uppermost spikelets abortive and the rachis projecting 1-5 mm as a sharp point. 10, warm reg.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.