IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

Comprehensive Description

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Description

This perennial grass is 3-5' tall. The culms are light to medium green, hairless, terete (circular in cross-section), and unbranched. Several alternate leaves occur primarily along the lower one-half of the culm. The leaf blades are up to 10" long and ¾" (20 mm.) across; they are green or grayish blue, linear in shape, flat, hairless, and rough-textured along their margins. The base of each leaf blade is much wider than the culm. The leaf sheaths are the same color as the blades and hairless; their margins are narrowly membranous, often becoming separated toward their apices. The ligules are white-membranous, while the nodes are green to yellowish green, glabrous, and slightly swollen. The culm terminates in a slender panicle of spikelets up to 10" long and 2-3" across. The lateral branches of this panicle are erect to ascending.  The spikelets are initially light green, but they later become golden tan and finally light tan. Each spikelet has a pair of glumes at its base; these glumes are keeled, lanceolate, hairless, and up to ¼" (6.5 mm.) in length. There are 2 sterile lemmas that are quite small and inconspicuous, while the fertile lemma is lanceolate, finely pubescent along its lower margins, and up to 4.5 mm. in length. This lemma encloses a membranous palea containing the grain. The blooming period occurs from early to mid-summer, lasting about 1-2 weeks. The perfect florets of the fertile lemmas are cross-pollinated by the wind. At maturity, the spikelets disarticulate above the glumes; there is one grain per spikelet. The grains are 3-4 mm. in length, narrowly ellipsoid-lanceoloid in shape, and light-colored. The root system produces extensive rhizomes. This grass forms clonal colonies that often exclude other species of plants. Cultivation

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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