Plants perennial; cespitose, not rhizomatous. Culms 4-150 cm, usually erect, sometimes decumbent, glabrous, not branched above the base; basal branching intravaginal; prophylls shorter than the sheaths, mostly glabrous, keels usually with hairs, apices bifid, teeth 1-3 mm; cleistogenes not developed. Sheaths open to the base, margins glabrous; ligules membranous, decurrent, truncate to acute, sometimes highest at the sides, sometimes ciliate; blades convolute to flat, translucent between the veins, often sinuous distally. Inflorescences terminal panicles, open or contracted, spikelets usually confined to the distal 1/2 of each branch. Spikelets 4-22 mm, with 1 floret; rachillas not prolonged beyond the base of the floret; disarticulation above the glumes, beneath the floret. Glumes subequal, longer than the floret, lanceolate, 3-7(8)-veined; florets globose to fusiform, terete to laterally compressed; calluses well developed, sharp or blunt, glabrous or antrorsely strigose, hairs yellow to golden brown; lemmas coriaceous to indurate, glabrous or pubescent, striate, particularly near the base, smooth, papillose, or tuberculate, often smooth on the lower portion and papillate to tuberculate distally, margins involute, fitting into the grooved palea, apices fused into a crown, awned, lemmas often narrowed below the crown, crowns usually ciliate; awns caducous to persistent, usually twice-geniculate, first 2 segments usually twisted and hispid, terminal segment straight and scabridulous; paleas longer than the lemmas, similar in texture, glabrous, sulcate between the veins, apices prow-tipped; lodicules 2 or 3, membranous, glabrous, blunt or acute; anthers 3; ovaries glabrous; styles 2. Caryopses terete to globose or lens-shaped. x = 11. Name from the Greek pipto, 'fall', and chaite, 'long hair'.