Plants annual. Culms 3-40 cm, geniculate. Sheaths open for most of their length; auricles present, often inconspicuous; ligules 0.4-2 mm, membranous, truncate; blades 1-6 mm wide, flat, linear. Inflorescences distichous spikes, 0.8-4.5 cm, with 1 spikelet per node, usually erect when mature; rachis internodes flat, margins glabrous or with hairs, hairs white; middle internodes 0.5-3 mm; disarticulation in the rachises, at the nodes beneath each spikelet, or at the base of each floret. Spikelets 6-25 mm, including the awns, more than 3 times the length of the internodes, divergent, laterally compressed, with 2-5 bisexual florets, sterile florets distal or absent. Glumes equal, 4-19 mm, including the awns, coriaceous, becoming indurate, 1-keeled initially, sometimes 2-keeled at maturity, keels glabrous or hairy, never with tufts of hair, bases slightly connate, apices tapering to a sharp point or straight awn; lemmas 5-24 mm, coriaceous, rounded basally, keeled distally, 5-veined, unawned or shortly awned; paleas usually shorter and thinner than the lemmas, 2-keeled, ciliate or scabrous distally, keels sometimes prolonged into 2 toothlike appendages; anthers 3, 0.4-1.3 mm, yellow. Ovaries pubescent; styles 2, free to the base. x = 7. Haplomes F, Xe. Name from the Greek eremia, 'desert', and pyros, 'wheat'.