Plants hermaphroditic, caespitose or rhizomatous, perennial. Culms erect or decumbent (some from a corm like
base), glabrous; internodes hollow, terete. Leaves basal or basal and cauline, not distinctly distichous;
sheaths terete, margins connate most of their length; auricles present or absent; ligules
membranous (often decurrent); blades flat or involute, linear, lax. Panicles open or contracted
, primary branches spreading or ascending. Spikelets solitary, laterally compressed or
terete, disarticulation above or below glumes, awned or awnless, pedicellate;
florets 2-8, reduced florets at apex, callus glabrous; rachilla not extended beyond upper floret;
glumes 2, first 1-7-veined, second 5-7-veined, nearly equal or clearly unequal, shorter than spikelet
or nearly equal to spikelet length, glabrous, usually awnless; lemmas mostly 5-9 veined,
membranous to coriaceous; glabrous or hairy, apex entire or bifid, awnless or mucronate; when
awned either apical or from between lobes, of bifid apex; awns straight, veins unequally developed or spaced;
paleas 2-veined, (submarginal) awnless, glabrous. Stamens 3; anthers yellow. Caryopses with pericarp free,
oblong or obovate, dorsiventrally compressed. Base chromosome numbers x=9.
An important temperate genus of 60-80 species. Melics are desirable livestock forage but seldom occur in
high quantities. Some of the taxa are common in forests or shrublands at low to mid elevations while others occur
in subalpine areas.