This species is a perennial bunchgrass with fibrous roots. The stems grow 20 to 70 centimeters long and may be erect or decumbent. The leaf blades are up to 18 centimeters long, but are generally shorter. The panicle is an open array of thin branches bearing tiny purplish spikelets.
This species is added to seed mixes for rangeland. It can tolerate saline and alkaline soils, such as those around oil well pads. It grows close to the ground and has fibrous roots which help it bind the soil to reduce erosion. It provides good cover for small animals.