This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol1", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Mostly annual grasses, with decumbent or rarely erect culms, flat leaf-blades and spikelike panicles. Spikelets 1-flowered; scales 3; the 2 outer empty, each extended into an awn; third scale smaller, generally hyaline, short-awned from below the apex, subtending a palet and perfect flower; palet shorter than the scale. Stamens 1-3. Styles short, distinct. Stigmas plumose. Grain free, enclosed in the scale and palet. [Greek, in allusion to the many long awns which resemble a beard.]
About 10 species, widely distributed in temperate and warm regions, rare in the tropics. Type species: Alopecurus Monspeliensis L.
Alopecurus Monspeliensis L. Sp. PI. 89. I753» P. Monspeliensis Desf. Fl. Atl. 1: 67. 1798.
Culms 2º tall or less, erect from a usually decumbent base, smooth and glabrous. Sheaths generally shorter than the internodes, loose, sometimes slightly scabrous; ligule 1 1/2"-4" long; blades 1 1/2'-6' long, 1 1/2"-3" wide, scabrous, especially above; panicle 1-4' in length, dense and spike-like, the branches i' in length, ascending; spikelets crowded; outer scales about 1" long, obtuse, slightly bifid, scabrous, bearing a more or less bent awn 2"-3" long; third scale much shorter, erose-truncate, hyaline, bearing a delicate awn about 1/4" long, inserted below the apex.
In waste places, Maine to Georgia, and in Texas, mostly near the coast. Very abundant in western North America, from British Columbia to Mexico. Naturalized from Europe. Native also of Asia. July-Sept.