Plants perennial; usually cespitose, occasionally shortly stoloniferous. Culms 30-75 cm, erect. Sheaths glabrous; ligules about 0.5 mm, shortly ciliate; blades to 20 cm long, to 5 mm wide, sometimes with long basal hairs, otherwise scabrous. Panicles with 5-17, evidently distinct branches in 1-3 closely-spaced whorls; branches to 7 cm, usually erect when young, spreading to reflexed at maturity, averaging 12 spikelets per cm. Spikelets with 1 bisexual and 1 staminate floret. Lower glumes 1.5-3.2 mm; upper glumes 2.5-3.4 mm; lowest lemmas 2.8-3.7 mm long, 0.6-1.1 mm wide, broadly linear to elliptic, mostly glabrous but the margins appressed pubescent, apices obtuse, not conspicuously bilobed, sometimes shortly mucronate; second florets 1.4-2.2 mm long, 0.3-0.9 mm wide, usually at least twice as long as wide, not lobed, unawned, occasionally mucronate. Caryopses 1.7-2.3 mm long, 0.5-0.6 mm wide, ellipsoid. 2n = ca. 65, 80.
Chloris submutica grows from the southwestern United States through Mexico, Guatemala, and Colombia to Venezuela. In Mexico, it is generally found between 1000-2100 m.