Annual, usually (10) 50-100 cm tall. Leaves linear, (1.5) 5-14 mm wide. Bracts subtending inflorescence large and leaflike, mostly 15-50 cm long; inflorescences compound (rarely simple), the racemes sessile or on short to long rays (to 20 cm long); spikelets linear, subterete, mostly 7-22 mm long, brownish at maturity; scales 2-3 mm long, striate, +/- divergent in age; rachilla strongly winged, the wings becoming corky in age, the spikelets breaking up into single segments. Achenes oblong, 1.5-2 .7 mm long, weakly trigonous, dark brown, densely papillose. Croat 9563, 13239. An occasional weed of clearings and marshes. Flowers throughout most of the year.