Plants perennial, rhizomatous, mat-forming. Culms 5-40 cm tall. Ligules to 0.3 mm, of hairs, often with longer hairs at the base of each blade immediately behind the ligule; blades usually glabrous abaxially, sometimes with a ciliate callus at the base of each collar, adaxial surfaces glabrous, scabrous, or sparsely pilose, apices often sharply pointed. Inflorescences terminal, exceeding the leaves, solitary spikelike racemes (a single spikelet in Z. minima), spikelets solitary, shortly pedicellate, laterally appressed to the rachises; disarticulation beneath the glumes or not occurring. Spikelets laterally compressed, with 1 floret; florets bisexual. Lower glumes usually absent; upper glumes enclosing the floret, chartaceous to coriaceous, awned, awns to 2.5 mm; lemmas thin, lanceolate or linear, acute to emarginate, 1-veined; paleas thin, rarely present. x = 10. Named for Carl von Zois (1756-1800), a German botanist.