Plants cespitose. Culms 40-60 cm, erect, usually unbranched, densely antrorsely hirsute beneath the nodes. Sheaths mostly glabrous, often ciliate on the margins, particularly at the throat; ligules with 1-2 mm hairs; blades 15-30 cm long, 1-2(4) mm wide, usually involute, abaxial surfaces with scattered long hairs adjacent to the margins, adaxial surfaces usually densely pilose. Rames 5-10 cm, internodes densely villous. Sessile spikelets 4.5-8 mm; calluses about 0.5 mm, hirsute; lower glumes densely hirsute, acuminate, bifid, teeth 1.5-2.5 mm; pedicels densely pilose dorsally. Pedicellate spikelets with densely pilose lower glumes. 2n = 20.
Elionurus barbiculmis grows on mesas, rocky slopes, hills, and in canyons, usually above 1200 m. Its range extends from southern Arizona and southwestern Texas into northern Mexico.