IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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This introduced perennial grass is about 1½–4' tall, forming dense tufts of unbranched stems that are ascending to erect. Each stem has several alternate leaves along its length. The blades of these leaves are up to 1/3" and 12" long (or a little larger); they are medium green, hairless, and linear in shape. Short leaf blades are spreading to ascending, while long leaf blades are rather droopy. Individual blades are usually flat, but sometimes they roll up along the edges or become twisted. At the base, each blade is more broad than the sheath and is slightly auriculate (with ear-like lobes). The leaf sheaths are medium green, finely veined, and hairless. The ligules are quite short, while the nodes are swollen. Each stem terminates in an elongated panicle of spikelets up to 8" long. The hairless branches are longest toward the bottom of the panicle and no more than 4" long (usually about one-half this length). Before and after the blooming period, the branches are stiffly erect or appressed against the central stalk of the inflorescence, but they spread outward slightly during the period of bloom. Each branch of the panicle has 2 or more spikelets; these spikelets are not confined to the tips of these branches, but also occur toward their bottoms near the central stalk. Each spikelet is up to ½" long and somewhat flattened; it has 2 glumes at the bottom and 5-11 fertile lemmas that are organized into 2 dense ranks. The 1st glume is about 3 mm., the 2nd glume is about 4 mm. long, and each lemma is about 6 mm. long. Both the glumes and lemmas are lanceolate and folded along the middle. The upper margins of the lemmas are slightly membranous, which become scarious and light tan with age. Each lemma has a floret with 3 pale yellow stamens, 2 feathery white stigmas, and an ovary. The blooming period usually occurs during mid- to late summer. Afterwards, the entire inflorescence becomes light tan and nods at the top. The floret of each lemma produces a single grain. The root system consists of a dense mass of fibrous roots and short rhizomes. A dense colony of this grass will produce a coarse lumpy sod.


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers


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