IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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This native perennial grass is 2–3½' tall, forming tufts of unbranched culms that are erect to ascending. Each culm is light to medium green, terete, and glabrous; there are about 6 alternate leaves along its length. The leaf blades are up to 12" long and 7 mm. across, ascending to widely spreading, and flat or slightly curved. Each leaf blade is medium green to grayish blue and slightly rough on the upper surface, while its lower surface is medium green, glabrous, and smooth. The leaf sheaths are medium green, finely veined, and hairless. The ligules are white-membranous. Each culm terminates in an airy panicle of spikelets up to 12" long and half as much across; it is usually pyramidal in shape with the longer branches toward the bottom (up to 5" long). When the culm is not erect, the branches of the entire inflorescence may lean toward one side. These branches are slender and rough; they are ascending to spreading near the central axis of the inflorescence, otherwise they have a tendency to droop downward. The branches occur in whorls of 2-4 along the central axis, where they are largely naked. Individual spikelets occur at the tips of the terminal branchlets. Each spikelet is pale green to pale purple and about 3-4 mm. long; it has 3-7 lemmas in two ranks and a pair of glumes at the bottom. The tiny glumes are 0.5–1.0 mm. in length, ovate to lanceolate-ovate, and single-veined. The lemmas are 1.25–2.0 mm. in length, oblong-ovate, and gently curved; each lemma has 7 prominent veins and its margins become white-membranous toward the apex. There is no tuft of hairs at the base of each lemma. The blooming period occurs from early to mid-summer. Afterwards, the spikelets become greenish yellow and finally light tan when their small grains have matured; disarticulation is above the the glumes. The root system is fibrous. This grass spreads by reseeding itself and occasionally forms colonies.


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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