IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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Description

This is a perennial grass about 3-4½' tall, consisting of individual leafy culms or tufts of 2-3 leafy culms. The culms are light green, glabrous, terete, relatively stout, and hollow. There are typically about 4 alternate leaves per culm. The floppy leaf blades are up to 16 mm. across, 12" long, and linear in shape; the bases of these blades are more wide than their culms. The upper blade surface is medium green and glabrous, while the lower blade surface is gray-green, glabrous, and sometimes glaucous. The blade margins feel rough. Leaf sheaths are light to medium gray-green, longitudinally veined, glabrous, and sometimes glaucous; they wrap tightly around their culms, except toward their apices, where V-shaped openings occur near the blades. The ligules are white-membranous, while the nodes are slightly swollen, light green, and glabrous. Each culm terminates in a panicle of spikelets up to 12" long and 6" across. The panicle is pyramidal-oblongoid in outline and its overall appearance is airy and droopy. Along the central stalk (or axis) of the panicle, there are whorls of 2-6 lateral branches (up to 4" in length) that individually subdivide into 1-4 whorled branchlets. However, toward the apex of the central axis, there are usually a few alternate branches. Both the branches and branchlets are widely spreading to drooping; they are light gray-green and glabrous to minutely short-pubescent. Individual spikelets occur along the branchlets on short pedicels up to 5 mm. long. These spikelets are 2.5-4.0 mm. long, ellipsoid in shape, glabrous, and single-flowered; they are light green while immature, becoming tan to brown at maturity. Each spikelet consists of a pair of outer glumes, a single lemma with a palea, and a perfect floret. The equal-sized glumes are the same length as the spikelets, elliptic-ovate in shape, 3-veined, and convex along their outer sides; they have white-membranous margins. The glumes enclose and hide a slightly smaller lemma and palea. There are 3 stamens with pale yellow anthers and a pair of white feathery stigmata; the anthers are 1.5-2.0 mm. long. The blooming period occurs during late spring or early summer. When the spikelets become mature, they disarticulate above the glumes. The grains are about 2.0-3.0 mm. long, 1 mm. across, and ellipsoid in shape. The root system is fibrous.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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