IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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This perennial grass is 2-4' tall at maturity. It forms a stiff culm about 2-30" tall that is terete and glabrous; this culm remains quite short if an inflorescence is not produced, in which case it is largely covered by the sheaths. Alternate leaves occur primarily toward the base of the culm. The leaf sheaths are light to medium green, longitudinally veined, and glabrous; dried brown remnants of older sheaths often persist at the base of the culm. The leaf blades are up to 2½' long and 4-10 mm. across; they are ascending, stiff, and straight. The lower half of each blade toward its base is usually flat, while the upper half toward its tip is often strongly rolled (involute). The inner surface of the blade (facing toward the culm) is dull pale blue, while the outer surface of the blade (facing away from the culm) is medium to dark green and glabrous. The margins are rough-textured toward the tip of the blade, becoming more smooth toward the base of the blade. The ligules are short-membranous and about 3 mm. (1/8") long. Occasionally, a culm terminates in a spike-like panicle about 6-14" long and less than ¾" across. Each panicle has a central stalk (rachis) and several lateral branches up to 2" long that are erect and appressed. Several single-flowered spikelets on short pedicels occur along each lateral branch of the panicle. Individual spikelets are 9-15 mm. long and slightly flattened, consisting of a pair of glumes, a lemma, a membranous palea, and a single floret. The glumes are 9-15 mm. long, linear-lanceolate in shape and keeled along their outer surfaces. The lemma is a little shorter than the glumes and linear-oblong in shape; there is small tuft of hairs at its base. The floret consists of an ovary, 3 stamens, and a pair of stigmata. The blooming period can occur from late spring to late summer. The florets are wind-pollinated. Afterwards, fertile lemmas are replaced by elongated grains. The root system is fibrous and long-rhizomatous. Reproduction occurs primarily by the rhizomes, which can form large colonies of plants.


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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