Comprehensive Description

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General: Grass Family (Poaceae). Slender wheatgrass is an erect, tufted, bunchgrass ranging in height from 2 to 2-1/2 feet. It is a relatively short-lived (3 to 5 years) perennial, cool-season C3 type, bunchgrass native to Western North America.

Plants are perennial, occasionally producing short rhizomes. Culms are erect or decumbent at the base, reaching a height of 0.5 to 1.0 meters (20 to 40 inches) tall. Stems are noted as having a characteristic reddish to purplish tinge at the base. The leaves are flat, usually 2 to 8 mm (0.08 to 0.31 inches) wide, stiffly ascending or somewhat lax. Sheathes are commonly glabrous or somewhat scabrous with auricles short or lacking.

The inflorescence is a long, spicate raceme ranging from 5 to as much as 25 cm (2 to 10 inches) long. Spikelets are solitary at each node of the rachis, 3 to 7 flowered and about 10 to 20 mm (0.4 to 0.8 inches) long. Spikelets overlap along the inflorescence, the rachis internodes being 5 to 8 mm (0.2 to 0.3inches) long. Glumes are lanceolate to oblong with 5 to 7 nerves. The first glume ranges from 6 to 10 mm (0.24 to 0.4 inches) long, while second glumes are slightly longer, from 7 to 12 mm (0.3 to 0.5 inches).


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USDA NRCS Idaho State Office

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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