Perennial (rarely annual) herbs, rhizomatous, seldom cushion-forming, with sparsely to densely ciliate leaves, rarely leaves abaxially hairy; trichomes simple, many-celled. Leaves scale-like on rhizomes, bractlike below the inflorescence, usually narrowly linear, rarely linear-lanceolate, flat to concave; sheaths closed (rarely slightly dissected); auricles absent. Bracts leaf-like to scarious. Inflorescence diverse, usually many-flowered, either cymose with flowers borne singly and pseudo-paniculate, or racemose and then borne singly or in few-flowered clusters in much branched panicles or decompound anthelate inflorescences, or in spike-like clusters, either pedunculate or congested in many-flowered dense heads. Each flower subtended by a small bract at pedicel base and 1–2 subentire to fimbriate bracteoles just below flower. Flowers hermaphrodite, perfect. Tepals 6, equal to ±unequal, ±lanceolate (linear-lanceolate to ovate-lanceolate), glumaceous, glabrous or ciliate-fimbriate. Stamens 3–6; anthers oblong to linear; filaments filiform to linear; ovary sessile; style thin, 0.1–c. 4 mm long; stigmas 3, suberect, twining. Capsule ±ovoid-trigonous, unilocular. Seeds 3, with or without appendages (caruncula); outer seed-coat tight, usually hyaline, less often whitish or brownish. x = 6 (sometimes changed by fragmentation, mostly simultaneous (agmatoploidy), or fusion (x = 3)), fide H.Nordenskiöld, Hereditas 37: 325–355 (1951), 42: 7–73 (1956).