Plants annual, biennial, or perennial. Culms 25-120(300) cm. Sheaths open, ligules membranous, truncate, often lacerate; blades flat or involute. Inflorescences laterally compressed, distichous spikes; middle internodes 2-4 mm; disarticulation beneath the florets or in the rachis. Spikelets 10-18 mm, 1 per node, ascending, with 2(3) florets; florets bisexual. Glumes 8-18 mm, shorter than the adjacent lemmas, linear, subulate, scabrous, coriaceous, 1-veined, keeled, keels terminating in an awn, awns to 35 mm; lemmas 10-19 mm, strongly laterally compressed, strongly keeled, keels strongly ciliate, terminating in a conspicuously scabrous awn; anthers 3, 2.3-12 mm, yellow. x = 7. Secale is the classical Latin name for rye.
Infl a bilateral spike with sessile, solitary spikelets borne flatwise to the rachis; spikelets 2-fld, the rachilla prolonged beyond the upper floret as a bristle-tip that may bear a vestigial third floret; glumes narrow, rigid, keeled, lemmas lance-subulate, excentrically keeled, 5-veined, shortly bilobed, the keel and marginal nerves strongly ciliate, tapering above into a straight rough awn; caryopsis deeply furrowed in back, hairy at the top; annual or perennial grasses. 5, temperate Eurasia.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.