Perennials. Glumes ± equal, as long as the spikelet; lemma usually shorter than the glumes, rarely equalling them, covering only the margins of the palea, ovate or lanceolate to obovate or elliptic, dorsally compressed, hairy or glabrous, entire or minutely bibbed at the tip; callus short and obtuse; awn usually deciduous, straight and erect, never twisted.
A genus of about 25 species in the Old World subtropics; 7 species occur in Pakistan.
Piptatherum angustifolium (Regel) Boiss., Piptatherum barbellatum Mez, Piptatherum caerulescens (Desf.) P. Beauv. and Piptatherum molinioides Boiss. have all been reported as occuring in Pakistan, but on the basis of incorrectly identified material.
Piptatherum is a difficult genus to name, partly because the species are all so variable and partly because the only useful distinguishing features tend to be cryptic in nature. It is virtually impossible to write a key for use in the field since identification of specimens relies on characters that are inaccessible except when magnifications of up to 20x are available. Identification is best attempted at or just after anthesis as both anthers and the fragile awn are of critical importance. Only one species has glabrous lemmas (Piptatherum vicarium) and one glabrous anther tips (Piptatherum hilariae), otherwise the species are all very much alike, differing only in length and position of awn, lemma shape (best seen in mature specimens) and density and distribution of lemma pubescence.