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Imperata brevifolia

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: ImperataView Description 

Habit: Perennial herb, rhizomed. Stem: erect. Leaf: cauline; ligule membranous; blade flat, linear to lanceolate. Inflorescence: panicle-like, +- cylindric; branches short, many, raceme-like, appressed, densely silky. Spikelet: in pairs, similar, unequally stalked, breaking below glumes, glumes equal to subequal, membranous, florets 2, lower vestigial, upper bisexual, lemma reduced or 0, awn 0, palea vestigial, stamens 1--2, style exserted, stigmas plumose. Fruit: ovate.
Species In Genus: 9--10 species: warm temperate, tropics. Etymology: (Ferrante Imperato, Italian naturalist, 1550--1625)
eFlora Treatment Author: Elizabeth M. Skendzic

Imperata brevifolia Vasey
Habit: Rhizomes hard, scaly. Stem: 0.7--1.5 m. Leaf: ligule densely ciliate; blade 15--50 cm, 4--15 mm wide, narrow at collar. Inflorescence: 1--3 dm, plume-like, densely white-silky-hairy, appearing speckled from adherent brown anthers, stigmas; hairs 8--15 mm. Spikelet: 3--4 mm, silky hairs at base, lower lemmas > upper lemmas. Chromosomes: 2n=20.
Ecology: Wet springs, meadows, streambanks, floodplains; Elevation: < 500 m. Bioregional Distribution: NCoRO, CaRF, s SNF, SnJV, SCo, TR, D; Distribution Outside California: to Utah, Texas, Mexico. Flowering Time: Sep--May
Unabridged Note: Imperata brevifolia has been removed from the CDFA Noxious Weed list.
eFlora Treatment Author: Elizabeth M. Skendzic
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Listed on CNPS Rare Plant Inventory

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botanical illustration including Imperata brevifolia


Citation for this treatment: Elizabeth M. Skendzic 2012, Imperata brevifolia, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on September 18, 2018.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2018, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on September 18, 2018.

Imperata brevifolia
click for enlargement
© 2008 Steve Matson
Imperata brevifolia
click for enlargement
© 2008 Steve Matson
Imperata brevifolia
click for enlargement
© 2008 Steve Matson
Imperata brevifolia
click for enlargement
© 2008 Steve Matson
Imperata brevifolia
click for enlargement
© 2008 Steve Matson

More photos of Imperata brevifolia in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Imperata brevifolia:
NCoRO, CaRF, s SNF, SnJV, SCo, TR, D;
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).

View elevation by latitude chart
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.