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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.



Susan J. Bainbridge

Perennial herb, generally cespitose, rhizomed or not, corms present or 0. Stem: generally erect. Leaf: ± basal; sheath closed to near top, glabrous to short-hairy; ligule thin, membranous, tip obtuse to truncate, generally jagged; blade flat, veins inconspicuous. Inflorescence: raceme- or panicle-like, generally appressed to main axis. Spikelet: glumes papery, translucent, back rounded, tip rounded, lower glume 3–5-veined, upper 1–3-veined; axis generally breaking above glumes; lower florets bisexual, 1–7, uppermost florets sterile, ± densely clustered at axis tip; lemma ± like glumes, prominently 5–7-veined, veins not converging, base occasionally red; palea < lemma.
n=9 in all California taxa.
± 80 species: generally temperate, except Australia. (Latin: honey, or old Italian name for plant with sweet sap) [Barkworth 2007 FNANM 27:88–102]

Key to Melica

1. Glumes deciduous; spikelets falling as 1 unit, 1–2 per inflorescence branch (sect. Melica) ..... M. stricta

1' Glumes persistent; spikelet axis breaking above glumes, spikelets > 2 per lower inflorescence branch (sect. Bromelica)

2. Lemma strongly acuminate or awned, glabrous or, if hairy, hairs longer on lower 2/3 of margins, marginal veins or basally

3. Awn 5–12 mm; lemma surface glabrous, margin near base often hairy ..... M. aristata

3' Awn 0–4 mm; lemma surface hairy near base

4. Lemma obtuse to ± mucronate at tip, ciliate, with longer hairs on margins, awn 1–4 mm; corms 0 ..... M. harfordii

4' Lemma strongly acuminate, hairy with longer hairs toward base, awn 0; corms present ..... M. subulata

2' Lemma rounded to acute, awn 0 (occasionally to 2 mm), glabrous to scabrous, longer hairs (if any) along entire margin or near tip

5. Bisexual florets 1–2 in all spikelets

6. Sterile cluster at axis tip widest at middle or below; axis < sterile cluster; lemma generally glabrous or minutely scabrous ..... M. imperfecta

6' Sterile cluster at axis tip truncate or widest above middle; axis > sterile cluster; lemma margin generally hairy ..... M. torreyana

5' Bisexual florets 3–7 in some or all spikelets

7. Floret stalks swollen when fresh, ± wrinkled and brown when dry ..... M. fugax

7' Floret stalks not swollen when fresh or wrinkled when dry

8. Palea 1/2–3/4 lemma; leaves 3–5 per stem, blades 3–9 cm ..... M. frutescens

8' Palea ± 7/8 lemma; leaves 2–3 per stem, blades generally >> 9 cm

9. Sterile cluster at axis tip widest above middle, tip truncate (acute), not resembling floret ..... M. californica

9' Sterile cluster at axis tip widest below middle, tip acute to acuminate, resembling floret

10. Both glumes ± 1/2 lowest floret; corms connected to rhizome by short stalk ..... M. spectabilis

10' 1 or both glumes ± 3/4 lowest floret; corms sessile on rhizome (or rhizome 0)

11. Sheath of basal leaf remaining intact; inflorescence branches appressed to ascending ..... M. bulbosa

11' Sheath of basal leaf becoming fibrous; inflorescence branches spreading to reflexed ..... M. geyeri


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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