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Dactylis species are perennial grasses, forming dense tussocks growing to 15–140 centimetres tall, with leaves 20–50 cm long and up to 1.5 cm broad, and distinctive tufted triangular flowerheadscomprising a panicle 10–15 cm long, turning pale grey-brown at seed maturity. The spikelets are 5–9 mm long, typically containing two to five flowers. The stems have a flattened base, which distinguishes them from many other grasses.