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Key to families | Table of families and genera

Specimen numbers are hyperlinked to records in the Consortium of California Herbaria data view where possible. Taxa are hyperlinked to entries in the Jepson Interchange via the "[Online Interchange]" link.


Annual, perennial herb. Stem: 5–100(200) cm, erect or decumbent, generally bent; nodes and internodes generally glabrous; internode solid to spongy. Leaf: basal and cauline; sheath generally smooth; ligule short-hairy or membranous, ciliate; blade flat or folded, margins generally cartilaginous. Inflorescence: panicle-like, central axis wavy, with reduced branches bearing burs, each consisting of 1–4(8) ± sessile spikelets generally enclosed by an involucre of flattened or cylindric bristle- or spine-like, ± fused bracts, these generally forming an inner and outer set; involucre and enclosed spikelets falling as 1 unit. Spikelet: ± dorsally compressed; glumes strongly unequal, ovate, lower 1-veined, upper ± = florets, 3–9-veined; florets 2, lower floret sterile or staminate, lemma generally 5-veined, palea generally present, upper floret fertile, lemma thick, ± hard, palea ± = lemma; anthers 3.
± 16 species: warm temperate America, Africa, southern Asia. (Uncertain. Greek: for millet or Latin for a precious stone) [Stieber & Wipff 2003 FNANM 25:529–535] Cenchrus ciliaris L. is now treated as Pennisetum ciliare (L.) Link.
Unabridged references: [Delisle 1963 Iowa State J Sci 37:259–351]

Key to Cenchrus

1. Bur with 1 whorl of flattened, fused inner bracts subtended by 1–several whorls of smaller, finer bracts ..... C. echinatus

1' Bur with several whorls of flattened spines, these at irregular intervals through body of bur

2. Sheaths strongly keeled; bracts 45–75, slender, < 1 mm wide; spikelets 5.8–7.8 mm ..... C. longispinus

2' Sheaths compressed, but not strongly keeled; bracts 8–40, broader at base, 1–3 mm; spikelets 3.5–5.9 mm ..... C. incertus


Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) [year] Jepson eFlora, [accessed on month, day, year]
Citation for an individual treatment: [Author of taxon treatment] [year]. [Taxon name] in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, [URL for treatment]. Accessed on [month, day, year].
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