IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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This perennial grass is ¾-1½' tall, consisting of a flowering culm with several alternate leaves. The culm is pale green, glabrous, and terete. The leaf blades are 1½-5" long,  3-6 mm. across, and flat; they are ascending to widely spreading. The upper and lower blade surfaces are medium green to grayish green and glabrous. The leaf sheaths are grayish green or bluish green, slightly inflated around the culm, glabrous, and sometimes glaucous. The ligules are white-membranous, while the nodes are dark-colored and hairless. Each fertile culm terminates in a spike-like panicle that is about 1-3" long and 4-5 mm. in diameter; the panicle is narrowly cylindrical in shape and light green when it is immature. The single-flowered spikelets are densely arranged along the entire length of each panicle; they are overlapping, ascending, and soft. Each spikelet is about 2-3 mm. long with an ellipsoid shape that is compressed (flattened), consisting of a pair of glumes, a pair of lemmas, and a perfect floret. The glumes are keeled, where they are conspicuously ciliate; they are softly short-hairy below the middle and joined together at the base. The lemmas are glabrous and joined together at the base; the fertile lemma has a short awn that originates from below the middle of its length. This awn is exserted up to 1.0 mm. from the tip of the spikelet. The infertile lemma is similar in appearance to the fertile lemma, except that it lacks an awn. Both the glumes and lemmas are about the same length as the spikelet (excluding the awn). Each floret has 3 stamens and a pair of feathery stigmata; the anthers are pale yellow to orange. The blooming period occurs from late spring to mid-summer, lasting about 1-2 weeks. The florets are cross-pollinated by the wind. Fertile florets are replaced by small grains. The root system is shallow and fibrous. Colonies of plants often develop at favorable sites.


Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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