This section is from the book "Handbook Of Hardy Trees, Shrubs, And Herbaceous Plants", by W. Botting Hemsley. Also available from Amazon: Handbook of hardy trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants.
Usually tufted herbs with slender terete or compressed jointed stems, hollow between the joints. Leaves linear, sheathing at the base; sheath split, and generally furnished with a small scarious scale (ligule) or tuft of hairs at its junction with the blade. Inflorescence spicate, racemose or paniculate. Anthers versatile. This is one of the most important assemblages of plants in the Vegetable Kingdom, comprising Wheat, Oats, Barley, Rye, Maize, Rice, Millet, and many other kinds of grain, as well as the Sugar-cane. The genera are variously estimated from 250 to 300, and the species at about 4,500. There are many highly ornamental species, some of large stature and imposing aspect, and some of diminutive size and very graceful habit.