Jepson Flora Project: Jepson Interchange    

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Jepson Interchange (more information)
©Copyright 1993 by the Regents of the University of California

  • Up-to-date information about California vascular plants is available from the Jepson eFlora.



James P. Smith, Jr., except as specified

Annual to bamboo-like; roots generally fibrous
Stem generally round, hollow; nodes swollen, solid
Leaves alternate, 2-ranked, generally linear; sheath generally open; ligule membranous or hairy, at blade base
Inflorescence various (of generally many spikelets)
Spikelet: glumes generally 2; florets (lemma, palea, flower) 1–many; lemma generally membranous, sometimes glume-like; palea generally ± transparent, ± enclosed by lemma
Flower generally bisexual, minute; stamens generally 3; stigmas generally 2, generally plumose
Fruit: achene-like grain
Genera in family: 650–900 genera; ± 10,000 species: worldwide; greatest economic importance of any family (wheat, rice, maize, millet, sorghum, sugar cane, forage crops, ornamental, weeds; thatching, weaving, building materials)
Reference: [Hitchcock 1951 Manual grasses US, USDA Misc Publ 200; Clayton & Renvoise 1986 Kew Bull Add Series 13]
See Glossary p. 26 for illustrations of general family characteristics. Generally wind-pollinated.



Dieter H. Wilken

Perennial with rhizomes
Stems ascending to erect
Leaves generally basal to lower cauline, fragrant; ligule membranous, fringed at acute to obtuse tip; blade flat to inrolled
Inflorescence panicle-like, open to compact; lower branches ascending to drooping
Spikelets stalked; florets 3, breaking above glumes, falling as 1 unit, lower 2 florets staminate, with 3 stamens, upper bisexual, with 2 stamens; glumes ± equal, membranous, shiny, 1–3-veined, awnless; lemmas generally < glumes, elliptic to ovate, rounded on back, ciliate, awned to awnless, 3–5-veined; paleas 1–3-veined
Species in genus: ± 30 species: temp North America, Eurasia
Etymology: (Greek: sacred grass)
Reference: [Weimarck 1971 Bot Not 124: 129–175]
Fresh leaves used for fragrance in churches on Saints' Days and as incense by native Americans.


H. odorata (L.) P. Beauv.


Plants 3–5 dm
Leaf: sheath glabrous to puberulent; ligule 3–5 mm; blade 3–5 cm, 2–5 mm wide
Inflorescence generally open, 5–8 cm; lower branches drooping to spreading
Spikelet 3–6 mm; lemmas acute, lemmas of lower florets minutely scabrous at base, short-hairy throughout, hairs tan to golden-brown, upper lemma membranous at base
Chromosomes: 2n=28,42,56
Ecology: Wet sites, meadows
Elevation: 1830 m.
Bioregional distribution: n High Cascade Range (Ball Mtn, Siskiyou Co.)
Distribution outside California: to Alaska, Canada, e US, Eurasia
See the CNPS Inventory for information about endangerment and rarity.
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