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.


Dennis Anderson

Annual, perennial herb, cespitose or from rhizomes
Stem generally erect, 2–20 dm
Leaf: sheath open; ligule membranous, truncate; blade generally 2–5 dm, 1–2 cm wide, flat
Inflorescence panicle-like, generally cylindric to ovoid, dense; branches ascending to appressed, obscure
Spikelet generally fertile, sometimes also sterile in P. paradoxa, compressed; glumes equal, > florets, sometimes with wing-like keel, 3–5-veined; axis generally breaking above glumes, generally falling as 1 unit; florets 2–3, lower 1–2 vestigial or 0, upper 1 fertile; upper floret lemma generally ovoid, glabrous or appressed-hairy, shiny, faintly 5-veined, awn 0; palea < lemma, translucent
Fruit ± fusiform
Species in genus: ± 15 species: temp North America, Eurasia
Etymology: (Greek: ancient name for grass with shiny spikelets)


P. arundinacea L.


Perennial from distinct rhizomes
Stem 5–15 dm
Inflorescence 7–40 cm, 2–11 cm wide, cylindric, interrupted near base; branches spreading in flower, appressed in fruit
Spikelet: glumes 3.5–7.5 mm, midvein scabrous, wing 0, tip acute; lower florets 2, 1–2.5 mm, awl-like, hairy; upper lemma 3–4.5 mm, ± 1.5 mm wide, narrowly lanceolate, glabrous to sparsely hairy
Fruit 1.5–2 mm, < 1 mm wide
Chromosomes: 2n=14,27–31,35,42
Ecology: Wet streambanks, moist areas, grassland, woodland
Elevation: < 1600 m.
Bioregional distribution: California Floristic Province, White and Inyo Mountains
Distribution outside California: temperate N.America, Eurasia
Flowering time: May–Aug
Cult for forage.

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