These are relatively large dragonflies. Their thoraces and abdomens are brown in color, with blue or yellow stripes or spots on the thorax, and yellow, blue or green spots on the abdomen.
Natalia von Ellenrieder's 2003 paper demonstrated that the Holarctic and Neotropical species placed in this genus did not share a common ancestor, and proposed the latter be placed in the genus Rhionaeschna.
The name Aeshna was coined by the Danish entomologist Fabricius in the 18th century. The name may have resulted from a printer's error in spelling the Greek Aechma, "a spear". The spelling Aeschna has been intermittently used over a period of time, but is now abandoned for the original name Aeshna. However, derived genus names (such as Rhionaeschna) retain the 'sch' spelling, as this is how they were first cited.
The genus Aeshna includes these species: