Description from Flora of China
Annuals. Culms erect, fairly robust. Leaf blades linear, flat; ligule membranous. Inflorescence a large loose panicle. Spikelets large, pendulous, oblong to gaping, florets 2 to several, the uppermost reduced; rachilla pilose or glabrous, disarticulating below each floret or only below the lowest, or not disarticulating (cultivated species); glumes lanceolate to elliptic, usually subequal and as long as spikelet, rarely strongly unequal or shorter than spikelet, herbaceous to membranous, 7–11-veined, back rounded, smooth, apex acuminate; floret callus acute to pungent, bearded; lemmas lanceolate-oblong, usually leathery, occasionally papery, back rounded, 5–9-veined, glabrous to hispid, awned usually from near middle of back, apex papery, 2-toothed to 2-fid, lobes sometimes extended into fine bristles, awn geniculate with twisted column, sometimes reduced or absent (cultivated species); palea usually shorter than lemma, keels ciliate. Ovary densely hairy. Caryopsis with long linear hilum.
Avena includes several species cultivated as cereal crops (oats) and is also used for fodder and fiber production. A few species have become widespread as weeds of crops in temperate regions.
Avena barbata Pott ex Link and A. eriantha Durieu, native from the Mediterranean to C Asia, are mentioned (FRPS 9(3): 168. 1987) as cultivated in China.
About 25 species: centered on the Mediterranean region and SW Asia, extending to N Europe and N Asia, widely introduced to other temperate and cold regions; five species (all introduced) in China.
(Authors: Wu Zhenlan (吴珍兰); Sylvia M. Phillips)