Culms 40-80 cm, disarticulating at the nodes when mature. Sheaths glabrous, rarely sparsely pilose, usually reddish above the nodes; blades to 30 cm long, 2-4 mm wide, flexible but not curled at maturity, glabrous, sometimes scabrous, uppermost cauline blades erect to ascending. Inflorescences with (4)6-17 spikelets; branches usually flexible, usually divergent, sometimes strongly so, after anthesis; lower branches with 2-3 spikelets; pedicels on the lowest branch as long as or longer than the spikelets. Spikelets (7)10-16 mm. Calluses of middle florets about as long as wide, convex abaxially; lemma bodies 2.5-5 mm, pilose over the back, sometimes sparsely so, margins pilose to beyond midlength, distal hairs 0.5-2 mm, apical teeth 2-4 mm, aristate, (1/2)2/3 or more as long as the lemma bodies; awns 6-10 mm; anthers to 2.2 mm. Caryopses 1.7-2.6 mm long, 0.7-1.1 mm wide. 2n = 36.
Conn., N.J., N.Y., D.C., W.Va., Ark., Del., N.C., S.C., Tenn., Pa., N.S., Ont., P.E.I., Que., Va., Mass., Maine, N.H., R.I., Vt., Alaska, Ala., Ga., Md., Ohio, Mich., Ky.
Danthonia compressa grows in open and semi-shaded areas, including meadows, open woods, and woodland openings. Although not a true pioneer species, it may sometimes occur as a weed in perennial crops. It is restricted to eastern North America.