Plants perennial or annual; rhizomatous or cespitose, rhizomes often extensively branched. Culms 5-200 cm, erect or decumbent, often rooting at the lower nodes, sometimes branched above the base; nodes often pubescent. Leaves not basally concentrated; sheaths open, margins overlapping, not fused; auricles absent; ligules membranous, entire, toothed, or ciliate; blades flat or convolute, often attenuate. Inflorescences spikelike racemes, most or all nodes with 1 spikelet, sometimes some with 2-3, most or all spikelets appressed to strongly ascending; disarticulation above the glumes, beneath the florets. Spikelets 14-80 mm, terete to laterally compressed, with (3)5-24 florets. Glumes unequal, 1/2 as long as to equaling the adjacent lemmas, lanceolate, membranous, apices obtuse to acuminate, lower glumes 3-7-veined, upper glumes 5-9-veined; lemmas usually membranous, sometimes coriaceous at maturity, rounded on the back, (5)7-9-veined, apices obtuse or acute, unawned or terminally awned; paleas shorter than to slightly longer than the lemmas, with 2 well-developed veins, sometimes with minor veins in between, keeled over the well-developed veins, keels strongly ciliate; lodicules 2, oblong, attenuate distally, margins ciliate or apices puberulent; anthers 3; styles 2, free to the base, white. Caryopses oblong, flattened, apices pubescent; hila linear. x = 5, 7, 9. Name from the Greek brachy, 'short', and podion, 'foot', referring to the shortly pedicellate spikelets.