Plants annual or perennial; cespitose. Culms 10-150 cm, herbaceous, glabrous, branching both at and above the base. Sheaths open; ligules membranous, ciliate. Inflorescences terminal, panicles of (1)2-20 non-disarticulating, spikelike branches, exceeding the upper leaves; branches 1-17 cm, all or most in a digitate cluster, sometimes 1(2) branch(es) attached immediately below the terminal whorl, axes flattened, terminating in a functional spikelet. Spikelets 3.5-11 mm, laterally compressed, with 2-15 bisexual florets; disarticulation above the glumes and between the florets (Eleusine coracana not disarticulating). Glumes unequal, shorter than the lower lemmas; lower glumes 1-3-veined; upper glumes 3-5(7)-veined; lemmas 3-veined, glabrous, keeled, apices entire, neither mucronate nor awned; paleas sometimes with winged keels; anthers 3, 0.5-1 mm; ovaries glabrous. Fruits modified caryopses, pericarp thin, separating from the seed at an early stage in its development; seeds usually obtusely trigonous, the surfaces ornamented. x = 8, 9, 10. Name from Eleusis, a Greek town where Demeter, the goddess of harvests, was worshipped.
Spikelets several-fld, articulated above the glumes, the terminal ones in each spike well developed; glumes unequal, the first shorter, 1-veined, the second strongly 3- or 5-veined, shorter than the lemmas but resembling them; lemmas compressed, ovate to lanceolate, acute to acuminate, strongly 3- or 5-veined, the veins approximate and parallel near the keel; grain ellipsoid to ovoid, rugose; annuals with compressed culms and keeled sheaths; ligule membranous, ciliate or erose; blades flat, soft; spikes digitate and terminal, or with 1 or 2 lateral ones, with flat rachis and densely crowded, divergent spikelets. 9, warm reg.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.