IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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This native grass is a loosely tufted perennial about 2-3' tall, sending up several unbranched culms. Each culm has 4-5 alternate leaves along its length; it is terete or slightly flattened, light green, and glabrous. The leaf blades are up to 5" long and ¼" (6 mm.) across; they are widely spreading or slightly drooping, dull green, and hairless. The tips of the blades are keel-shaped, while their margins are rough. The leaf sheaths are dull green, hairless to minutely pubescent, and open. At the junction of each blade and sheath, there is a white membranous ligule about 1-2 mm. long; it is partially exerted above the blade. Each culm terminates in a panicle of spikelets about 4-8" long and half as much across at the base; it is pyramidal or conical in overall shape and airy in appearance. Along the central axis (rachis) of each panicle, there are whorls of 3-5 branchlets that often subdivide into smaller branchlets. These branchlets are slender, hairless, and widely spreading; as the inflorescence ages, the lower branchlets often hang downward. At the tip of each branchlet, there is a spikelet about 4 mm. long and 2 mm. across that is somewhat flattened and light green; it consists of a pair of glumes and 2-4 lemmas. The light green glumes are lanceolate with membranous margins; the smaller glume is 1.5–2.0 mm. long, while the larger glume is 2.5–3.0 mm. long. The light green to green lemmas are lanceolate-oblong, and keeled; each lemma is about 3.0 mm. long with 5 fine nerves (along the keel, both margins, and between the keel and margins). These nerves are finely pubescent (at least along the lower half of each lemma), while at the base of each lemma, there is web of fine hairs. The blooming period occurs from late spring to early summer. Shortly afterwards, this grass becomes yellow and fades away by the end of summer. Each fertile lemma produces a single grain. Disarticulation is above the glumes. The root system is fibrous; it doesn't produce rhizomes or stolons. This grass occasionally forms colonies by reseeding itself.


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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