Description from Flora of China
Perennial, densely tufted. Culms erect, 3–60 cm tall, 1–2 mm in diam., pubescent to tomentose especially below panicle, 1–3-noded. Leaf sheaths pubescent; leaf blades flat or rolled, 2–15 cm, 2–4 mm wide, densely to sparsely hairy on both surfaces or only abaxial surface, or glabrous, margins often setose; ligule 1–2 mm. Panicle spikelike, dense, linear to ovate or oblong in outline, lower part sometimes interrupted, 1.5–11 cm; branches short, appressed, pubescent to tomentose. Spikelets 4–9 mm, florets 2(or 3); rachilla hairs 1–1.5 mm; glumes subequal or slightly unequal, lower glume 4–8 mm, upper glume 5–9 mm, apex acuminate, occasionally briefly aristulate; lemmas lanceolate, 4–7 mm, scaberulous to pubescent, awned from upper 1/4–1/3, apex usually 2-denticulate, teeth often mucronate, occasionally subentire; awn 2–7 mm, weakly geniculate with loosely twisted column, or recurved at base, or almost straight; palea keels scaberulous. Anthers 0.7–1.3 mm. Fl. and fr. Jun–Sep.
This extremely polymorphic species is one of the most widespread of all flowering plants, being present in arctic and alpine parts of all continents except Africa. A large number of subspecies and varieties has been described, and these are only weakly correlated with geography. In spite of difficulties in applying infraspecific names, it seems unacceptable to include the very large range of forms present in China without subdivision under a single species name. Therefore subspecific names that have previously been applied are maintained here to indicate the main nodes of variation. However, variation is still very imperfectly understood, especially in the Himalayas, and it is not possible to place all specimens within the given subspecies descriptions.
Grassy mountain slopes, alpine meadows, on glacial moraine, among bushes, montane forests; 1900–5600 m. Gansu, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Hubei, Jilin, Liaoning, Nei Mongol, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Sichuan, Taiwan, Xinjiang, Xizang, Yunnan [Afghanistan, Bhutan, N India, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Korea, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan; SW Asia (Caucasus), Australia, Europe, North and South America].