Robust perennial grass up to 4 meters tall; grows forming thick clumps or colonies from basal offshoots or short rhizomes. Stems often branched above; internodes more or less bluish glaucous; young nodes with white hairs, later becoming smooth, glabrous. Leaf sheaths glabrous, usually shorter than the internodes; ligule a narrow rim densely fringed with long white hairs. Leaf blades linear to tapering, flat, often bluish green, to 1 m long and 3 cm wide, pilose near the base, especially on margins; blade margins generally rough; midvein stout, whitish above, strongly keeled below. Inflorescence a dense terminal bristly spike, tawny to purple-tinged, to about 20 cm long and 2 cm wide. Spikelets 4-6 mm long.