Articles on this page are available in 1 other language: Spanish (1) (learn more)

Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

Grass Family (Poacae). Nodding needlegrass is a native, long-lived, cool season tufted perennial bunchgrass. It is very similar to Nassella pulchra (purple needlegrass), but is generally smaller, with finer leaf blades, and the terminal segment of the awn flexuous. It also produces more flower spikes. The basal leaf blades are numerous, narrow, and glaucus.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS California State Office and Lockeford Plant Materials Center, California

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Alternative names

Stipa cernua, nodding stipa

Public Domain

USDA NRCS California State Office and Lockeford Plant Materials Center, California

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Distribution

National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Global Range: This species is known from the United States and Mexico. It's distribution, however, is restricted. In the United States it is only known from California (Kartesz 1999) and in Mexico, it is only known from northern Baja California, Mexico (Gould and Moran 1989).

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

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Adaptation

In California, this grass is especially adapted to sandy, well-drained, loamy soils, but will tolerate rocky soil. It is native to chaparral and dry slopes in lower elevations. It thrives in full sun, and also grows in partial shade. It will tolerate heat and wind.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS California State Office and Lockeford Plant Materials Center, California

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Nodding needlegrass is found is the southwestern United States in lower elevations with a coastal influence. For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS California State Office and Lockeford Plant Materials Center, California

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Perennials, Terrestrial, not aquatic, Stems nodes swollen or brittle, Stems erect or ascending, Stems geniculate, decumbent, or lax, sometimes rooting at nodes, Stems caespitose, tufted, or clustered, Stems terete, round in cross section, or polygonal, Stem internodes hollow, Stems with inflorescence less than 1 m tall, Stems, culms, or scapes exceeding basal leaves, Leaves mostly basal, below middle of stem, Leaves mostly cauline, Leaves conspicuously 2-ranked, distichous, Leaves sheathing at base, Leaf sheath mostly open, or loose, Leaf sheath smooth, glabrous, Leaf sheath hairy at summit, throat, or collar, Leaf sheath and blade differe ntiated, Leaf blades linear, Leaf blades very narrow or filiform, less than 2 mm wide, Leaf blades 2-10 mm wide, Leaf blades mostly flat, Leaf blade margins folded, involute, or conduplicate, Leaf blades more or less hairy, Leaf blades scabrous, roughened, or wrinkled, Leaf blades glaucous, blue-green, or grey, or with white glands, Ligule present, Ligule an unfringed eciliate membrane, Inflorescence terminal, Inflorescence an open panicle, openly paniculate, branches spreading, Inflorescence solitary, with 1 spike, fascicle, glomerule, head, or cluster per stem or culm, Inflorescence branches more than 10 to numerous, Flowers bisexual, Spikelets pedicellate, Spikelets dorsally compressed or terete, Inflorescence or spikelets partially hidden in leaf sheaths, subtended by spatheole, Spikelet less than 3 mm wide, Spikelets with 1 fertile floret, Spikelets solitary at rachis nodes, Spikelets all alike and fertille, Spikelets bisexual, Spikelets disarticulating above the glumes , glumes persistent, Spikelets disarticulating beneath or between the florets, Rachilla or pedicel glabrous, Glumes present, empty bracts, Glumes 2 clearly present, Glumes distinctly unequal, Glumes equal to or longer than adjacent lemma, Glume equal to or longer than spikelet, Glumes awn-like, elongated or subulate, Glumes 3 nerved, Lemmas thin, chartaceous, hyaline, cartilaginous, or membranous, Lemma body or surface hairy, Lemma rugose, with cross wrinkles, or roughened, Lemma apex acute or acuminate, Lemma distinctly awned, more than 2-3 mm, Lemma with 1 awn, Lemma awn 2-4 cm long or longer, Lemma awned from tip, Lemma awn twisted, spirally coiled at base, like a corkscrew, Lemma awn twice geniculate, bent twice, Lemma apices fused distally into a crown, Lemma margins inrolled, tightly covering palea and caryopsis, Lemma straight, Callus or base of lemma evidently hairy, Callus hairs shorter than lemma, Lemma surface pilose, setose or bristly, Palea present, well developed, Palea membranous, hyaline, Palea shorter than lemma, Stamens 3, Styles 2-fid, deeply 2-branched, Stigmas 2, Fruit - caryopsis, Caryopsis ellipsoid, longitudinally grooved, hilum long-linear.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

Dr. David Bogler

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Ecology

Habitat

California Central Valley Grasslands Habitat

This taxon is found in the California Central Valley grasslands, which extend approximately 430 miles in central California, paralleling the Sierra Nevada Range to the east and the coastal ranges to the west (averaging 75 miles in longitudinal extent), and stopping abruptly at the Tehachapi Range in the south. Two rivers flow from opposite ends and join around the middle of the valley to form the extensive Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta that flows into San Francisco Bay.

Perennial grasses that were adapted to cool-season growth once dominated the ecoregion. The deep-rooted Purple Needle Grass (Nassella pulchra) was particularly important, although Nodding Needle Grass (Stipa cernua), Wild Ryes (Elymus spp.), Lassen County Bluegrass (Poa limosa), Aristida spp., Crested Hair-grass (Koeleria pyramidata), Deergrass (Muhlenbergia rigens,), and Coast Range Melicgrass (Melica imperfecta) occurred in varying proportions. Most grass growth occurred in the late spring after winter rains and the onset of warmer and sunnier days. Interspersed among the bunchgrasses were a rich array of annual and perennial grasses and forbs, the latter creating extraordinary flowering displays during certain years. Some extensive mass flowerings of the California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica), Lupines (Lupinus spp.), and Exserted Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja exserta) are found in this grassland ecoregion.

Prehistoric grasslands here supported several herbivores including Pronghorn Antelope (Antilocapra americana), elk (including a valley subspecies, the Tule Elk, (Cervus elaphus nannodes), Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus), California ground squirrels, gophers, mice, hare, rabbits, and kangaroo rats. Several rodents are endemics or near-endemics to southern valley habitats including the Fresno Kangaroo Rat (Dipodomys nitratoides exilis), Tipton Kangaroo Rat (Dipodomys nitratoides nitratoides), San Joaquin Pocket Mouse (Perognathus inornatus), and Giant Kangaroo Rat (Dipodomys ingens). Predators originally included grizzly bear, gray wolf, coyote, mountain lion, ringtail, bobcat, and the San Joaquin Valley Kit Fox (Vulpes velox), a near-endemic.

The valley and associated delta once supported enormous populations of wintering waterfowl in extensive freshwater marshes. Riparian woodlands acted as important migratory pathways and breeding areas for many neotropical migratory birds. Three species of bird are largely endemic to the Central Valley, surrounding foothills, and portions of the southern coast ranges, namely, the Yellow-billed Magpie (Pica nuttalli), the Tri-colored Blackbird (Agelaius tricolor EN), and Nuttall’s Woodpecker (Picoides nuttallii).

The valley contains a number of reptile species including several endemic or near-endemic species or subspecies such as the San Joaquin Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum ruddocki), the Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard (Gambelia sila EN), Gilbert’s Skink (Plestiodon gilberti) and the Sierra Garter Snake (Thamnophis couchii). Lizards present in the ecoregion include: Coast Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma coronatum NT); Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis); Southern Alligator Lizard (Elgaria multicarinata); and the Northern Alligator Lizard (Elgaria coerulea).

There are only a few amphibian species present in the California Central Valley grasslands ecoregion. Special status anuran taxa found here are: Foothill Yellow-legged Frog (Rana boylii NT); Pacific Chorus Frog (Pseudacris regilla); and Western Spadefoot Toad (Pelobates cultripes). The Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) occurs within this ecoregion.

Although many endemic plant species are recognized, especially those associated with vernal pools, e.g. Prickly Spiralgrass (Tuctoria mucronata). A number of invertebrates are known to be restricted to California Central Valley habitats. These include the Delta Green Ground Beetle (Elaphrus viridis CR) known only from a single vernal pool site, and the Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle (Desmocerus californicus dimorphus) found only in riparian woodlands of three California counties.

Vernal pool communities occur throughout the Central Valley in seasonally flooded depressions. Several types are recognized including valley pools in basin areas which are typically alkaline or saline, terrace pools on ancient flood terraces of higher ground, and pools on volcanic soils. Vernal pool vegetation is ancient and unique with many habitat and local endemic species. During wet springs, the rims of the pools are encircled by flowers that change in composition as the water recedes. Several aquatic invertebrates are restricted to these unique habitats including a species of fairy shrimp and tadpole shrimp.

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

© World Wildlife Fund & C. Michael Hogan

Supplier: C. Michael Hogan

Trusted

Article rating from 1 person

Average rating: 5.0 of 5

Dispersal

Establishment

Nodding needlegrass does well in disturbed sites and is valuable for erosion control, because of its strong root system. However, it does not tolerate disturbance after planting. It will go dormant after flowering without additional water (facultatively dormant), and does best with no summer water after the first year in the ground. Small amounts of routine watering may keep it green all year, but may also kill it. It is very drought tolerant, and intolerant of flooding. In dense stands, it can completely inhibit certain weeds, such as yellow starthistle. Abundant seed production is usually what helps maintain natural stands in non-grazed or lightly grazed areas. Plants need some protection from grazing during flowering to ensure seed formation and food storage in the crown. Once established, it is generally fire tolerant, but not fire resistant. The season of a burn is the most important factor in determining the severity of the effects on the plants. It will re-sprout after spring or fall burns, but summer burns can be damaging. Smaller plants are often less damaged by fire than larger plants because they burn less intensely and don’t smolder for long periods of time.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS California State Office and Lockeford Plant Materials Center, California

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: Unknown

Comments: It is unknown how many occurrences of this species there are. It is known from California and Mexico, but is highly degraded due to invasions of non-native species (Hamilton et al. 2002).

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

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N2 - Imperiled

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

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G3 - Vulnerable

Reasons: Nassella cernua is a grass known from only the United States and northern Baja California, Mexico. It is a member of native bunchgrass communities in California, that have been described as some of the most endangered ecosystem types in the United States. These native grasslands have been changed by non-native species, native to the Mediterranean area, since the mid-1700s. Nassella cernua, along with the grasslands, has declined because of the impacts of the non-native species. No direct information was found about the number of occurrences of this species that persist, but given the great decline of the grasslands it makes up, it is reasonable to assume that it too has declined significantly.

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

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Status

Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status (e.g. threatened or endangered species, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values).

Public Domain

USDA NRCS California State Office and Lockeford Plant Materials Center, California

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Global Short Term Trend: Decline of 10-50%

Comments: Nassella cernua is a member of rare bunchgrass communities in California that have been degraded due to non-native species (Hamilton et al. 2002). It is expected that these communitites are still threatened, and that N. cernua is declining due to non-native plant invasion.

Global Long Term Trend: Decline of 50-90%

Comments: This grass species has undergone a long term decline. It is a main component of the California bunchgrass communities that are considered some of the rarest ecosystems in the United States. Nassella cernua along with Nassella pulchra are two native grass species that make up these bunchgrass communities. It is noted that since the time of the Spanish missions in the mid 1700s there have been enormous invasions of non-native grasses from the Mediterranean into California (Hamilton et al. 2002). The invasion of these non-native species has irrevocably changed the landscape to such a degree that the original extent of the bunchgrass communities is not known (Hamilton et al. 2002). Further, Hamilton et al. 2002 say that 80 to 100% of the cover of these communities is now comprised of non-native plant species.

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

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Threats

Comments: While specific threats to this species were not found, it is part of rare Californian bunchgrass communtities that are threatened by non-native species, land clearing, farming, and extreme overgrazing (Hamilton et al. 2002). The following non-native species were identified by Hamilton et al. 2002 as greatly affecting the native bunchgrass communities, which presumably threaten N. cernua too: Bromus hordeaceous, Bromus diandrus, Avena fatua, and Avena barbata.

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

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Management

Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)

‘LK415f’ Germplasm: Collected from San Luis Obispo County, California; Trusedale and Shells Roads. Township 27S and Range 15E Section 10. Elevation is approximately 1200 feet. Mean annual precipitation is 12-20 inches. Mean annual temperature is 60 degrees F.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS California State Office and Lockeford Plant Materials Center, California

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Seed production

Abundant seed matures in mid to late spring, with collection possible for 2 - 3 weeks. There are between 118,000 and 250,000 seeds/lb., and if planted at a rate of 1 lb./acre, there will be approximately 4.3 seeds/square feet. Sharp points on the seeds are augured into the soil by the twisting action of the awns. Also, seed can be harvested using a flow-vac or combine.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS California State Office and Lockeford Plant Materials Center, California

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Nodding needlegrass will withstand mowing, especially after seed set and some traffic. It also requires some protection from grazing during the flowering period (late May-April).

Public Domain

USDA NRCS California State Office and Lockeford Plant Materials Center, California

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Uses

Nodding needlegrass is used for restoration, critical area planting, cover crop, and wildlife habitat. It is probably one of the best grasses available for use in harsh conditions, such as subsoils, low fertility soils, hot ant dry meadows, roadcuts, and roadsides. It also provides good early forage for grazing animals.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS California State Office and Lockeford Plant Materials Center, California

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Wikipedia

Nassella cernua

Nassella cernua (syn. Stipa cernua) is a species of grass known by the common name nodding needlegrass.

The bunchgrass is native to western California in the United States and Baja California in Mexico.[1][2][3]

Distribution[edit]

Nassella cernua is a component of California and Baja California in native grasslands, chaparral, and juniper woodlands.[1][2] This bunchgrass is found in the California Coast Ranges and Transverse Ranges (U.S.), and Peninsular Ranges (U.S. & Mexico).[1]

This and many other native grasses of the California Floristic Province have declined because of the encroachment of introduced species of grasses, making native grasslands a very endangered habitat type, and this plant a listed Vulnerable species.[3]

Description[edit]

The perennial Nassella cernua bunchgrass has stems up to 2–3 feet (0.61–0.91 m) tall. [4] The narrow leaves have a waxy texture.

The panicle is open with bending or nodding branches.[2] The awn is up to 4 inches (10 cm) long. [5]

Cultivation[edit]

Nassella cernua is cultivated as a drought-tolerant ornamental grass by specialty plant nurseries, for use in native plant and wildlife gardens, drought tolerant landscaping, and for habitat restoration projects. [4][6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c N. cernua.; Jepson.
  2. ^ a b c Nassella cernua. Grass Manual Treatment.
  3. ^ a b Nassella cernua. NatureServe.
  4. ^ a b Las Pilitas plant database — Stipa cernua Nodding needlegrass . accessed 7.7.2012
  5. ^ NPIN: N. cernua . accessed 7.7.2012.
  6. ^ Jepson Horticultural Database . accessed 7.7.2012.
Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Source: Wikipedia

Unreviewed

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Disclaimer

EOL content is automatically assembled from many different content providers. As a result, from time to time you may find pages on EOL that are confusing.

To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!