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.



Annual, perennial herb, monoecious, aquatic
Stems erect, < 3 m, 1 cm wide
Leaf: ligule membranous, narrow; blade < 1.2 m, 2.5 cm wide
Inflorescence panicle-like; lower branches spreading to ascending, bearing staminate spikelets; upper branches ascending to erect, bearing pistillate spikelets
Staminate spikelet generally drooping; glumes vestigial, forming a collar-like ridge; floret 1; lemma linear, 5-veined, acuminate or awned; palea 3-veined; stamens 6
Pistillate spikelet generally ascending to erect, cylindric, angled, firm; glumes generally 0; floret 1, lemma 3-veined, long-tapered, awned
Fruit 1–2 cm, cylindric, purplish black
Species in genus: 3 species: North America, e Asia
Etymology: (Greek: ancient name for weed in grain fields)
Reference: [Dore 1969 Canada Dept Agric Res Publ 1393]


Z. palustris L. var. interior (Fassett) Dore


Stem puberulent at nodes
Leaf 15–45 cm, 6–40 mm wide
Inflorescence 2–5 dm
Staminate spikelet 6–8 mm
Pistillate spikelet 10–20 mm; awn 5–40 mm
Chromosomes: 2n=30
Ecology: Wet meadows, shallow ponds, lake margins
Elevation: < 1200 m.
Bioregional distribution: Inner North Coast Ranges, Sacramento Valley, Modoc Plateau
Distribution outside California: native to Canada, e US
Cult for food, waterfowl.

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