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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.


Robert Webster

Perennial in CA, generally from rhizomes or stolons
Stems decumbent to erect; internode solid to hollow inside
Leaves basal and cauline; sheath glabrous or hairy; ligule generally membranous
Inflorescence panicle-like; axis generally glabrous; 1° branches raceme- to spike-like, spreading to appressed; spikelets many, 1–2 per node, generally short-stalked, on one side of axis
Spikelet falling as 1 unit, compressed, generally green; glumes 1–2, lower glume minute or 0, upper ± = spikelet; florets 2, lower floret generally sterile, palea vestigial or 0, upper floret fertile, lemma firm, thick, sometimes hard, back facing inflorescence axis, smooth or striate, margin inrolled, tip blunt
Species in genus: ± 300 species: tropical, warm temp worldwide
Etymology: (Greek: ancient name)
Reference: [Gould 1975 The Grasses of Texas pp. 500–527, Texas A&M Press]


P. distichum L.

Perennial from stolons and rhizomes
Stem decumbent to erect, 0.8–6 dm; nodes 5–15
Leaf: sheath 3–20 cm, glabrous; ligule < 1.5 mm; blade 2–22 cm, 2–7 mm wide, upper surface glabrous
Inflorescence: main axis < 1.5 cm; 1° branches 2–3, 1.5–5.5 cm; spikelets many, 1–2 per node, stalk < 0.5 mm
Spikelet 2.5–3.5 mm, ± 1.5 mm wide, obovate to elliptic; lower glume < 2.5 mm, 1-veined; lower floret lemma 3–5-veined, tip acute; upper floret slightly < lower floret
Chromosomes: 2n=40,60
Ecology: Moist places, marshes, ditches
Elevation: < 1650 m.
Bioregional distribution: California Floristic Province (except mtns), Great Basin Floristic Province, n Mojave Desert
Distribution outside California: to Washington, e US, S.America
Flowering time: Jun–Oct
Horticultural information: STBL.

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