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Vascular Plants of California
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Cynosurus cristatus

Higher Taxonomy
Family: Poaceae (Gramineae)View DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Annual to woody perennial herb; roots generally fibrous. Stem: generally round, hollow; nodes swollen, solid. Leaf: alternate, 2-ranked, generally linear, parallel-veined; 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; perianth vestigial; stamens generally 3; stigmas generally 2, generally plumose. Fruit: grain, sometimes achene- or utricle-like.
Genera In Family: 650--900 genera; +- 10550 species: worldwide; greatest economic importance of any family (wheat, rice, maize, millet, sorghum, sugar cane, forage crops, ornamental, weeds; thatching, weaving, building materials). Note: Generally wind-pollinated. Achnatherum, Ampelodesmos, Hesperostipa, Nassella, Piptatherum, Piptochaetium, Ptilagrostis moved to Stipa; Elytrigia, Leymus, Pascopyrum, Pseudoroegneria, Taeniatherum to Elymus; Hierochloe to Anthoxanthum; Lolium, Vulpia to Festuca; Lycurus to Muhlenbergia; Monanthochloe to Distichlis; Pleuraphis to Hilaria; Rhynchelytrum to Melinis. The following taxa (in genera not included here), recorded in California from historical collections or reported in literature, are extirpated, lacking vouchers, or not considered naturalized: Acrachne racemosa (Roth) Ohwi, Allolepis texana (Vasey) Soderstr. & H.F. Decker, Amphibromus nervosus (Hook. f.) Baill., Axonopus affinis Chase, Axonopus fissifolius (Raddi) Kuhlm., Coix lacryma-jobi L., Cutandia memphitica (Spreng.) K. Richt., Dinebra retroflexa (Vahl) Panz., Eremochloa ciliaris (L.) Merr., Eustachys distichophylla (Lag.) Nees, Gaudinia fragilis (L.) P. Beauv., Miscanthus sinensis Andersson, Neyraudia arundinacea (L.) Henrard, Phyllostachys aurea Rivière & C. Rivière, Phyllostachys bambusoides Siebold & Zuccarini, Rottboellia cochinchinensis (Lour.) Clayton, Schedonnardus paniculatus (Nutt.) Branner & Coville, Schizachyrium cirratum (Hack.) Wooton & Standl., Schizachyrium scoparium (Michx.) Nash, Themeda quadrivalvis (L.) Kuntze, Thysanolaena latifolia (Hornem.) Honda, Tribolium obliterum (Hemsl.) Renvoize, Zea mays L., Zizania palustris L. var. interior (Fassett) Dore, Zoysia japonica Steud. Paspalum pubiflorum E. Fourn., Paspalum quadrifarium Lam., are now reported for southern California (J Bot Res Inst Texas 4:761--770). See Glossary p. 30 for illustrations of general family characteristics.
eFlora Treatment Author: James P. Smith, Jr., except as noted
Scientific Editor: James P. Smith, Jr., J. Travis Columbus, Dieter H. Wilken.
Genus: CynosurusView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: Annual, perennial herb. Stem: generally 1--8 dm, erect. Leaf: generally basal; ligule membranous, truncate, rough-edged, or ciliate; blade 3--15 cm, 2.5--14 mm wide, flat, glabrous to pubescent. Inflorescence: terminal, spike- or panicle-like, cylindric, ovoid to head-like, dense; spikelets laterally compressed, generally paired, subsessile to short-stalked, of 2 kinds, 1 sterile, 1 fertile. Fertile Spikelet: bisexual; glumes +- equal, lanceolate, 1-veined, keeled, awn generally 0; florets 1--5; axis extended beyond uppermost floret, breaking above glumes and between florets; lemma back rounded, faintly 5-veined, awned [or not]; palea +- = lemma, 2-lobed. Sterile Spikelet: sometimes obscuring fertile spikelet; glume narrow, linear; florets 6--18, axis not breaking apart; lemma narrow, lance-linear, rigid, 1-veined, awned or not. Chromosomes: 2n=14.
Species In Genus: 8 species: Europe, western Asia, northern Africa. Etymology: (Greek: dog + tail, from shape of inflorescence)
eFlora Treatment Author: James P. Smith, Jr.
Reference: Long 2007 FNANM 24:685--687
Unabridged Reference: Jirasek & Chrtek 1964 Novit Bot Delect Seminum Horti Bot Univ Carol Prag 1964:23--27; Lodge 1959 J Ecol 47:511--518
Cynosurus cristatus L.
Habit: Cespitose, +- puberulent. Stem: 1.5--8 dm; base sometimes abruptly bent. Leaf: ligule 0.5--2.5 mm, truncate; blade 0.5--2 mm wide. Inflorescence: 3--14 cm, < 1 cm wide; central axis +- zigzag, flat. Fertile Spikelet: glume 3--5 mm, acute; florets 2--5. Sterile Spikelet: glume +- flat; florets generally 6--11; lemma awn < 1 mm. Chromosomes: 2n=14.
Ecology: Fields, disturbed places; Elevation: < 300 m. Bioregional Distribution: NCo, CCo, SCo; Distribution Outside California: to Washington, Montana; also northeastern North America; native to Europe. Flowering Time: Jun--Aug Note: Sometimes cultivated for forage.
Jepson eFlora Author: James P. Smith, Jr.
Reference: Long 2007 FNANM 24:685--687
Unabridged Reference: Jirasek & Chrtek 1964 Novit Bot Delect Seminum Horti Bot Univ Carol Prag 1964:23--27; Lodge 1959 J Ecol 47:511--518
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Botanical illustration including Cynosurus cristatus

botanical illustration including Cynosurus cristatus


Citation for this treatment: James P. Smith, Jr. 2012, Cynosurus cristatus, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on December 12, 2018.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2018, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on December 12, 2018.

Images not yet vetted for Cynosurus cristatus

Geographic subdivisions for Cynosurus cristatus:
NCo, CCo, SCo;
Markers link to CCH specimen records. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues. Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).

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Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.