Description from Flora of China
Annual or perennial. Leaf blades linear, flat; ligule membranous. Inflorescence composed of many unilateral racemes along a central axis; racemes dense, the lower often branched; spikelets subsessile, closely imbricate, biseriate. Spikelets orbicular, disarticulating below glumes, bisexual floret 1, with or without a second staminate floret above it; rachilla extension absent; glumes equal, gibbously inflated, enclosing all but apex of floret, not or weakly keeled, herbaceous with thinner white margins, 3-veined, apex obtuse or acute; floret callus short, glabrous; lemma lanceolate, cartilaginous, rounded on back, 5-veined, apex acute or tapering to a cusplike awn-point; palea somewhat shorter than lemma. Caryopsis terete.
The second species in the genus, Beckmannia eruciformis (Linnaeus) Host, occurs from Europe and the Mediterranean region to C Asia and E Russia. It is a perennial with short, creeping rhizomes, sometimes with tuberous basal internodes, spikelets usually with 2 florets, globose, inflated glumes, and longer anthers 1.2–1.8 mm.
Two species: temperate regions of the N hemisphere; one species in China.
(Authors: Lu Shenglian (卢生莲); Sylvia M. Phillips)