Description from Flora of China
Perennial, basal sheaths becoming fibrous; rhizomes widely spreading, tough, scaly. Culms solitary or tufted, 25–120 cm tall, 1.5–3 mm in diam., 1–4-noded, nodes glabrous or bearded. Leaf sheaths glabrous or pilose at margin and mouth; leaf blades flat or rolled, stiffly erect, 20–100 × 0.8–2 cm, culm blades 1–3 cm, adaxial surface puberulous, margins scabrid, base straight or narrowed, apex long acuminate; ligule 1–2 mm. Panicle cylindrical, copiously hairy, 6–20 cm, lowermost branches sometimes loose. Spikelets 2.5–6 mm; callus with 12–16 mm silky hairs; glumes 5–9-veined, back with long silky hairs ca. 3 times glume length, apex slightly obtuse or acuminate; lower lemma ovate-lanceolate, 2/3 length of glumes, ciliate, acute or denticulate; upper lemma ovate, 1/2 length of glumes, denticulate, ciliate, palea equal to lemma. Anthers 2, 2–4 mm. Stigmas purplish black. Fl. and fr. Apr–Aug. 2n = 20.
This species is extremely polymorphic, but nevertheless easily recognizable by its dense, narrowly cylindrical, silky white inflorescence. The blackish stigmas are persistent and very obvious among the white hairs. The species has been classified into three varieties, which show some geographic separation. Two occur in China and a third is found in Africa. However, there is a great deal of intergradation and also variation within the varieties.
This widespread, noxious weed of disturbed ground and cultivation spreads vigorously by its rhizomes, which are almost impossible to eradicate, and may cover large areas of ground. It flourishes in grasslands that are frequently burned, and the young shoots provide good fodder. It is also used for medicine and fiber.
River and seashore sands, disturbed grassy places, cultivations. Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hainan, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Liaoning, Nei Mongol, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanxi, Sichuan, Taiwan, Xinjiang, Xizang, Yunnan, Zhejiang [Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, New Guinea, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam; Africa, SW Asia, Australia, S Europe].