Perennials, Terrestrial, no t aquatic, Rhizomes present, Rhizome short and compact, stems close, Stems nodes swollen or brittle, Stems erect or ascending, Stems caespitose, tufted, or clustered, Stems terete, round in cross section, or polygonal, Stem nodes bearded or hairy, Stem internodes hollow, Stems with inflorescence less than 1 m tall, Stems, culms, or scapes exceeding basal leaves, Leaves mostly cauline, Leaves conspicuously 2-ranked, distichous, Leaves sheathing at base, Leaf sheath mostly open, or loose, Leaf sheath smooth, glabrous, Leaf sheath hairy, hispid or prickly, Leaf sheath and blade differentiated, Leaf blades linear, Leaf blades 2-10 mm wide, Leaf blades 1-2 cm wide, Leaf blades mostly flat, Leaf blades mostly glabrous, Leaf blades more or less hairy, Leaf blades scabrous, roughened, or wrinkled, Ligule present, Ligule a fringed, ciliate, or lobed membrane, Inflorescence terminal, Inflorescence solitary, with 1 spike, fascicle, glomerule, head, or cluster per stem or culm, Inflore scence lax, widely spreading, branches drooping, pendulous, Inflorescence curved, twisted or nodding, Inflorescence a panicle with narrowly racemose or spicate branches, Inflorescence single raceme, fascicle or spike, Flowers bisexual, Spikelets pedicellate, Spikelets laterally compressed, Spikelet less than 3 mm wide, Spikelets with 8-40 florets, Spikelets solitary at rachis nodes, Spikelets all alike and fertille, Spikelets bisexual, Spikelets disarticulating above the glumes, glumes persistent, Spikelets disarticulating beneath or between the florets, Spikelets closely appressed or embedded in concave portions of axis, Rachilla or pedicel glabrous, Glumes present, empty bracts, Glumes 2 clearly present, Glumes distinctly unequal, Glumes shorter than adjacent lemma, Glumes 4-7 nerved, Lemmas thin, chartaceous, hyaline, cartilaginous, or membranous, Lemma 5-7 nerved, Lemma glabrous, Lemma apex acute or acuminate, Lemma distinctly awned, more than 2-3 mm, Lemma with 1 awn, Lemma awn less than 1 cm long, Lemma awn 1-2 cm long, Lemma awned from tip, Lemma awns straight or curved to base, Lemma margins thin, lying flat, Lemma straight, Palea present, well developed, Palea membranous, hyaline, Palea about equal to lemma, Palea 2 nerved or 2 keeled, Stamens 3, Styles 2-fid, deeply 2-branched, Stigmas 2, Fruit - caryopsis, Caryopsis ellipsoid, longitudinally grooved, hilum long-linear, Caryopsis hairy at apex.
Perennial. Culms loosely tufted, erect, slender, (20–)40–90 cm tall, 3–7-noded. Leaf sheaths sparsely to densely pilose, or sometimes glabrous; leaf blades linear, usually flat, mid or dark green, 8–35 cm, 3–9 mm wide, glabrous to pilose on one or both surfaces, or hispid along veins; ligule 0.5–2 mm. Raceme 8–12 cm, suberect or nodding, spikelets 3–9; pedicels less than 2 mm. Spikelets 1.5–3 cm, subterete, florets 5–12; glumes lanceolate, glabrous, pubescent or scabrous on veins, apex acuminate or midvein extended into awn-point, lower glume 3–10 mm, 3–7-veined, upper glume 5–14 mm, 5–9-veined; lemmas 7–14 mm, pilose or hispid on margins and upper back, sometimes sparsely, or glabrous throughout; awn 5–14 mm. Anthers 2.5–5 mm. Fl. and fr. Jul–Sep.
Tufted perennial without rhizomes; culms 30-90 cm high, erect or spreading, slender to moderately stout, hairy at and towards the nodes, otherwise smooth and glabrous. Leaf-blades up to 35 cm long, 4-12 mm wide, mostly loosely hairy, rarely hairless and rough; sheaths loosely hairy with spreading or reflexed hairs, or the upper smooth, rarely all hairless. Inflorescence 6-20 cm long, bearing 4-12 spikelets. Spikelets 2-4 cm long, cylindrical, narrowly oblong or lanceolate, 8-16-flowered, glumes lanceolate or the upper narrowly oblong, sharply pointed or the upper very shortly awned, usually hairy, the lower 6-8 mm long, 5-7-nerved, the upper 8-11 mm long, 7-9-nerved; lemmas oblong-lanceolate, 7-11 mm long, shortly and stiffly hairy, rarely only rough or quite smooth, acute, tipped by an awn up to 12 mm long; anthers 3.5-4 mm long.
This species is the most widespread in the genus and is extremely polymorphic throughout its range. This has resulted in the description of many infraspecific variants. These are usually based on differences in pubescence of the vegetative parts and spikelets, but these characters are extremely plastic. The relative size of the spikelet parts is also variable and of doubtful taxonomic significance.
The name Brachypodium sylvaticum var. kelungense is based on specimens from Taiwan with mucronate glumes, but these are found throughout the range of the species. Spikelets with acute and mucronate glumes may even occur in the same raceme. The name B. sylvaticum var. gracile has been applied to small forms in China, but it is based on a type from Germany, and such specimens are probably only depauperate. Thus, while phenotypic variants may appear very different, the characters on which they are based occur in all combinations throughout the range of the species, making the recognition of infraspecific taxa very uncertain. No detailed comparison has ever been made between the European and E Asian populations.
In tropical SE Asia Brachypodium sylvaticum occurs only on mountains.
Culms up to 50 cm tall, 1 mm in diameter, glabrous or pubescent, node disticnt. Blade linear, 10-12 cm long, 4-6 mm wide; ligule membranous, 2 mm long, fimbriate. Raceme up to 10 cm long, with more than 3 spikelets. Spikelets 5-12-flowered, 2 cm long; glumes chartaceous, distinctly nerved; the lower lanceolate, 2.5 mm long, 3-5-nerved, apex ending in a short awn; the upper broadly lanceolate, 4 mm long, 7-nerved, short awned; lemmaaubcoriaceous, 7-8 mm long, glabrous to pubescent, 7-nerved, tipped with an awn, awn nearly as long as the lemma; palea chartaceous, linear-oblong, as long as the lemma, 2-keeled, ciliate on keels.
Wood False-Brome is a species of no value agriculturally and is generally considered undesirable in grassland.
Tor Grass, Brachypodium pinnatum (Linn.) P. Beauv., differs from Brachypodium sylvaticum by having a shorter awn shorter than the lemma, glabrous sheaths and culms and a rhizomatous habit. Although it is reported from Pakistan (R.R. Stewart 8732 det. Swallen in Stewart, Ann. Cat. Vasc. Pl. W. Pak. 138) this is probably an error as the species is otherwise unknown east of Iran. The Stewart specimen in question, which incidentally is at Kew despite Stewart's statement in his catalogue, although having short-awned glabrous spikelets is tufted and has hairy sheaths and leaves; it is thus better regarded as a form of Brachypodium sylvaticum.