Perennials, often tall; culms solid. Leaf-blades linear; ligule scarious or a line of hairs. Inflorescence large, plumose, often silvery, with many racemes crowded upon the primary panicle braches or borne directly on the main axis; racemes usually flexuous, the rhachis fragile and bearing paired similar spikelets, one sessile, the other pedicelled; internodes linear, slender, usually more than half the length of the sessile spikelet. Spikelets lanceolate, enveloped in long silky hairs from the callus; callus very short, truncate; glumes equal, membranous or coriaceous, the lower flat or rounded on the back; lower floret reduced to a lemma, this often lanceolate, shorter than the spikelet, hyaline; upper floret bisexual; lemma lanceolate, hyaline, awnless or with a straight awn, entire or rarely bilobed, sometimes reduced to a subulate vestige; palea small or suppressed; stamens 2-3. Caryopsis subglobose to narrowly oblong.
A genus of 35-40 species throughout the tropics, extending to warm temperate regions; 9 species occur in Pakistan, one of them cultivated.
Saccharum officinarum Linn. Sp. Pl. 1:54. 1753 is the cultivated sugar cane, recognisable by its awnless spikelets, glabrous glumes (except sometimes the upper on the margins) and the wide leaves which are laminate right to the base. Apart from this species, the “Noble Cane”, two other “species” are cultivated in Asia. These are now regarded as cultivars of Saccharum officinarum and one of them, Saccharum barberi Jeswiet in Archf. Suik. Ind. Ned.-Indie 1925, No. 12: 396.1925, is the one grown in Pakistan (R. N. Parker 3386 (K) from Southwest Punjab).