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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: generally erect and tufted; internode solid or hollow. Leaf: basal and cauline; sheath generally glabrous; ligule short-hairy or membranous, ciliate. Inflorescence: terminal and/or axillary, generally panicle-like, dense, ± cylindric (raceme-like in Pennisetum clandestinum); spikelets generally many, short-stalked to sessile, generally in clusters of 1–4 on highly reduced branches, subtended by 6–many inner and outer sets of bristles and a single terminal generally >> than the others; spikelet cluster and bristles generally falling as 1 unit. Spikelet: dorsally compressed to ± round in ×-section; glumes 1–2, lower glume < upper when present; upper ± = spikelet; florets 2, lower floret sterile or staminate; upper floret fertile, lemma firm, ± thick or hard, smooth or scabrous, generally dull, margin flat to inrolled, tip blunt; palea < lemma, = in texture; anthers 3.
± 80 species: mostly warm temperate, subtropics, tropics. (Latin: feather or plume + bristle, conspicuous bristles subtending spikelets) [Wipff 2003 FNANM 25:517–529] Separation of Pennisetum from Cenchrus remains unsettled. Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br., Pennisetum latifolium Spreng., Pennisetum macrourum Trin., Pennisetum nervosum (Nees) Trin., Pennisetum purpureum Schumach. have been collected in California, but none has become naturalized. Some species cultivated for ornamental, food (pearl millet), fodder, fiber for paper-making; others are aggressive weeds.

Key to Pennisetum

1. Flower stem decumbent; inflorescence raceme-like, axis flattened, ± enclosed by sheath at maturity; subtending bristles < spikelets; spikelets in 1–6 clusters ..... P. clandestinum

1' Flower stem erect; inflorescence panicle-like, axis round in ×-section, clearly exserted from sheath at maturity; subtending bristles >= spikelet; spikelets in 10–many clusters

2. Inner bristles fused to 1/4 length ..... P. ciliare

2' Inner bristles free to base

3. Plant cespitose; inflorescence pink to dark red; spikelets 4.5–7 mm ..... P. setaceum

3' Plant rhizomatous; inflorescence white to light brown; spikelets 9–12 mm ..... P. villosum


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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