IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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Description

This native grass is a summer annual consisting of a sprawling tuft of flowering culms with alternate leaves. Each culm is usually branched toward its base, but becomes unbranched above. The slender culms are light green or purple, glabrous, terete, and about ½–2' in length. The leaf blades are 1-6" long and 1.5–3.0 mm. across; they are yellowish green to green, hairless, and flat. The leaf sheaths are light green, veined, and hairless – except at the junction of the sheaths with the blades, where there are thin collars of long white hairs. The sheaths are shorter than the internodes; the exposed nodes are swollen, hairless, and either light green or purple. The central culm (and any lateral culms) terminates in a panicle of spikelets about 3-9" long and 1-4" wide at the bottom. The panicle is airy in appearance and narrowly pyramidal in shape. Along the central axis (stalk) of the inflorescence, there are several lateral branches that are ascending. These lateral branches are alternate, opposite, or whorled along the central axis. Both the central axis and lateral branches are slender, glabrous, and either straight or slightly squiggly. Each lateral branch produces 1-5 spikelets along the upper one-half of its length; each spikelet has a short slender pedicel. The spikelets and their pedicels are either appressed or slightly divergent along the length of each branch. Each spikelet is 4-8 mm. long and about 1.5 mm. across, consisting of 2 glumes and 5-15 lemmas that are arranged in two columnar ranks. The spikelets are light gray-green or lead-colored, glabrous, smooth along their margins, and flattened; sometimes the tips of their lemmas are tinted purple. The first glume is 0.5–1.0 mm. long, while the second glume is 0.7–1.5 mm. long; they are keeled, elliptic, and single-veined. Individual lemmas are 1.0–2.0 mm. long; they are keeled, elliptic, and 3-veined. The lateral veins of the lemmas are conspicuous when a spikelet is viewed with a 10x hand lens. The blooming period occurs from mid-summer to the early fall. The elongated grains are 0.5–1.0 mm. long; they are small enough to be blown about by the wind. The root system is fibrous. This grass spreads by reseeding itself.

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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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