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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description and adaptation

Annual hairgrass is a fine textured, native, cool season grass with smooth, slender stems (culms) that are 10 to 60 cm tall. The form is upright to spreading, short, and somewhat tufted. The narrow leaf blades are hairless, rough on the edges, slightly in-rolled, 0.5 to 1.5 (2) mm wide, and 1 to 10 cm long. Flower heads (panicles) are open, 7 to 25 cm long, with ascending lower branches. Annual hairgrass occurs from near sea level at the coast to 8000 feet in the Rocky Mountains. It is primarily found from Alaska south to Baja California and east to Montana and New Mexico; also the Northeast US and Chile.

Key to identification: Annual hairgrass can be distinguished from slender hairgrass (Deschampsia elongata) and tufted hairgrass (Deschampsia caespitosa) by its weaker root development, fewer leaves, and smaller stature. Without close inspection it may be confused with other annual grasses, such as annual fescues (Vulpia spp.). Both may occur in waste areas. Consult botanical keys for proper identification.

Relative abundance in wild: While most common in the Pacific Coast states, the species can still be hard to locate. However, it can occur in large stands, especially in vernal pools dominated by annuals. Seed retention is fair and fill is good. The period for wild collection can extend several weeks as maturation progresses along a soil moisture gradient within depressions.

Adaptation: Annual hairgrass reaches its preeminence in vernal pools, mudflats and other shallow depressions that are ponded in winter and desiccated in summer. In California, habitat also includes alkali and coastal grasslands, the edges of alkali playas, and seasonally or periodically inundated wetlands dominated by annuals. Other habitats can include streambanks, roadsides, drier banks, vernal seepage areas, waste areas, and mountain meadows. Typical substrates appear to be acidic (pH 5) to moderately alkaline fine textured clay soils and silt loams above a shallow, impervious layer. However, it also grows on coarse textured substrates that stay moist through seed development. Annual hairgrass apparently tolerates some salinity and prefers full sun. Fall germinants actively grow all winter, tolerating several days to several weeks of continual submergence.

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Alternative names

Other scientific names include Aira danthonioides Trin., Deschampsia calycina J. Presl, and Deschampsia danthonioides (Trin.) Munro var. gracilis (Vasey) Munz

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USDA NRCS Plant Materials Center, Corvallis, Oregon

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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Global Range: Alaska and Yukon south to Baja California, Nevada, Utah, and western Montana, with disjunct populations in Chile and Argentina.

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Annuals, Terrestrial, not aquatic, Stems nodes swollen or brittle, Stems erect or ascending, Stems caespitose, tufted, or clustered, Stems terete, round in cross section, or polygonal, Stem internodes hollow, Stems with inflorescence less than 1 m tall, Stems, culms, or scapes exceeding basal leaves, Leaves mostly basal, below middle of stem, Leaves conspicuously 2-ranked, distichous, Leaves sheathing at base, Leaf sheath mostly open, or loose, Leaf sheath s mooth, glabrous, Leaf sheath and blade differentiated, Leaf blades linear, Leaf blades very narrow or filiform, less than 2 mm wide, Leaf blades 2-10 mm wide, Leaf blade margins folded, involute, or conduplicate, Leaf blades mostly glabrous, Leaf blades scabrous, roughened, or wrinkled, Ligule present, Ligule an unfringed eciliate membrane, Inflorescence terminal, Inflorescence an open panicle, openly paniculate, branches spreading, Inflorescence solitary, with 1 spike, fascicle, glomerule, head, or cluster per stem or culm, Inflorescence branches more than 10 to numerous, Lower panicle branches whorled, Flowers bisexual, Spikelets pedicellate, Spikelets laterally compressed, Spikelet less than 3 mm wide, Spikelets with 2 florets, Spikelets solitary at rachis nodes, Spikelets all alike and fertille, Spikelets bisexual, Spikelets disarticulating above the glumes, glumes persistent, Spikelets disarticulating beneath or between the florets, Rachilla or pedicel hairy, Glumes pre sent, empty bracts, Glumes 2 clearly present, Glumes equal or subequal, Glumes distinctly unequal, Glumes equal to or longer than adjacent lemma, Glume equal to or longer than spikelet, Glumes 1 nerved, Glumes 3 nerved, Lemma similar in texture to glumes, Lemma coriaceous, firmer or thicker in texture than the glumes, Lemma 5-7 nerved, Lemma glabrous, Lemma body or surface hairy, Lemma apex dentate, 3-5 fid, Lemma distinctly awned, more than 2-3 mm, Lemma with 1 awn, Lemma awn less than 1 cm long, Lemma awn subapical or dorsal, Lemma awn twisted, spirally coiled at base, like a corkscrew, Lemma awn once geniculate, bent once, Lemma margins thin, lying flat, Lemma straight, Callus or base of lemma evidently hairy, Callus hairs equal to lemma, Palea present, well developed, Palea membranous, hyaline, Palea longer than lemma, Palea 2 nerved or 2 keeled, Stamens 3, Styles 2-fid, deeply 2-branched, Stigmas 2, Fruit - caryopsis, Caryopsis ellipsoid, longitudinally grooved, hilum l ong-linear.
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Dr. David Bogler

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Type Information

Type fragment for Deschampsia calycina C. Presl
Catalog Number: US 865608A
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Card file verified by examination of alleged type specimen
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): T. P. X. Haenke
Locality: Rio Huallaga, margen Derecha del; Balsa Probana; dtto. Tocache Nuevo, Mariscal Cáceres, San Martín, Peru, South America
  • Type fragment: Presl, C. B. 1830. Reliq. Haenk. 1: 251.
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Holotype for Deschampsia gracilis Vasey
Catalog Number: US 81797
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): C. R. Orcutt
Year Collected: 1884
Locality: San Diego., San Diego, California, United States, North America
  • Holotype: Vasey, G. 1885. Bot. Gaz. 10: 244.
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Isotype for Deschampsia gracilis Vasey
Catalog Number: US 98972
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): C. R. Orcutt
Year Collected: 1884
Locality: Mesas, San Diego, California, United States, North America
  • Isotype: Vasey, G. 1885. Bot. Gaz. 10: 244.
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Ecology

Dispersal

Establishment

Annual hairgrass germinates readily and is easy to establish on open, moist ground. There is no seed dormancy and therefore no requirement for physiological conditioning or over wintering outdoors. However, as a winter annual in milder growing climes of the West Coast, it is best suited to early fall sowing. The seed should be run through a debearder or brush machine to remove pubescence (hairs). This will accentuate further seed cleaning and improve flow through a drill and other planting device. There are approximately 900,000 seeds per pound (+/- 30%). A seeding rate of 1 lb/acre pure live seed (PLS) would result in 20 live seeds per square foot. Seeding rates will vary widely depending on planting purpose, site conditions, and method used.

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USDA NRCS Plant Materials Center, Corvallis, Oregon

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Deschampsia danthonioides

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Deschampsia danthonioides

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N3 - Vulnerable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Status

Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status (e.g. threatened or endangered species, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values).

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USDA NRCS Plant Materials Center, Corvallis, Oregon

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Management

Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)

Plants and seeds are sometimes available in California. This species is generally not available elsewhere within its range, requiring wild harvests or contract seed growing to provide material.

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USDA NRCS Plant Materials Center, Corvallis, Oregon

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Environmental concerns

Shallow roots and low herbage production may limit this species usefulness for soil stabilization on highly erosive soils or unconsolidated substrates. While annual hairgrass is a weak competitor with weeds, it may be less likely to become a weed itself. Although this species can increase in open waste areas, reports of this species becoming invasive are lacking.

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As an annual, this species requires regular disturbance or moist to wet open ground in fall and winter in order to proliferate. It is not competitive and is easily replaced by other species. Annual hairgrass should be well suited to moist soil management techniques (slow de-watering, disking, etc.) in shallow water impoundments and other controlled wetlands. Such methods are used to improve habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds and other wildlife by maximizing seed production of annuals.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Uses

Annual hairgrass is useful for wetland restoration, erosion control, and revegetation of other moist, disturbed areas where quick, low growing ground cover is desired. Given its apparent lack of competitiveness, this species may prove valuable as a temporary nurse crop for establishing perennial native species in both wetland and upland seed mixes. Waterfowl and birds eat the seeds. However, the foliage may be of less merit for wildlife herbage and cover compared to other grasses because of its short stature, lifespan, and limited productivity. The palatability and nutritional value of annual hairgrass for livestock and game is not documented. The vernal pools which it occupies are important reservoirs for aquatic invertebrates and amphibians.

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Wikipedia

Deschampsia danthonioides

Deschampsia danthonioides is a species of grass known by the common name annual hairgrass.[1] It is native to western North America from the Yukon Territory and British Columbia, through California and the Western United States, to Baja California, and also to southern South America in Chile and Argentina.[2]

The annual bunchgrass grows in moist to drying areas such as pond edges, meadows and grasslands, in various habitat types such as montane and chaparral.

Description

Deschampsia danthonioides has stems growing solitary or in loose clumps up to 40 to 60 centimeters tall. The inflorescence is a narrow to open array of thin branches bearing small V-shaped spikelets.[3]

References[edit]

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