IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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Virginia Wild Rye is highly variable and several varieties have been described. The typical variety (var. virginicus) has slightly smaller awned glumes and lemmas (less than 1¼" in length), while the awned glumes and lemmas of var. glabriflorus exceed 1¼" in length. As already described, var. submuticus has glumes and lemmas that lack awns. Of these varieties, var. virginicus is the most common and var. submuticus is the least common in Illinois. Virginia Wild Rye can be distinguished from other Elymus spp. (Wild Rye grasses) by its erect spikelets with straight awns, lack of significant hair on the foliage, and the width of its glumes (> 1 mm. across). Natural hybrids between Elymus virginicus glabriflorus and Elymus hystrix (Bottlebrush Grass) have been found within the state, which prompted the reclassification of the latter species into the Elymus genus.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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