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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.


Dennis Anderson

Annual, perennial herb, cespitose or from rhizomes
Stem decumbent to erect, 2–30 dm
Leaf: ligule membranous or hairy-tufted; blade generally 10–40 cm, 0.5–1.5 cm wide, flat
Inflorescence generally umbel-like; branches 2–30, sometimes in distinct whorls, each raceme- or spike-like branch with 2 rows of overlapping spikelets on 1 side of axis
Spikelet: glumes unequal, < florets, 1–3-veined; axis breaking above glumes; lower 1–2 florets fertile, upper 1–3 sterile, < 1/2 lower floret length; fertile floret lemma ovate to lanceolate, back glabrous, midvein hairy, 3-veined, awn 1; palea < lemma, translucent, obscure
Fruit ± fusiform, 3-angled
Species in genus: ± 50 species: warm temp, tropical worldwide
Etymology: (Greek: mother of Nestor, goddess of flowers)


C. virgata Sw.

Stem generally 1–5 dm
Leaf: sheath glabrous to hairy near collar; ligule glabrous to hairy; blade < 30 cm, 1.5 cm wide
Inflorescence umbel-like; branches ± erect, 5–10 cm
Spikelet 2.5–4.5 mm; lower glume 1.5–2.5 mm, 0.2–0.5 mm wide, acute; upper glume 2.5–4.5 mm, 0.3–0.5 mm wide, acute; fertile floret 1, 2.5–4 mm, 0.5–1.5 mm wide, ovate, obovate, or elliptic, keel hairy near tip, margin generally hairy-tufted, awn 2.5–15 mm; sterile floret 1, 1.5–3 mm, 0.5–0.8 mm wide, awn 3–9.5 mm
Fruit 1.5–2 mm
Chromosomes: 2n=20,26, 30,40
Ecology: Disturbed areas
Elevation: < 200 m.
Bioregional distribution: Great Central Valley, South Coast, Desert
Distribution outside California: to s Great Plains, n Mexico; native to warm temperate regions worldwide
Flowering time: Apr–Sep

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