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Vascular Plants of California
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Aira caryophyllea

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: AiraView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: Annual. Stem: tufted, glabrous to puberulent. Leaf: +- basal; collar glabrous to puberulent; ligule < 1 mm, membranous; blade 0.3--14 cm, 0.3--2.5 mm wide, flat to rolled, upper generally much reduced. Inflorescence: panicle-like, open to dense. Spikelet: bisexual, laterally compressed, 1.5--4 mm; glumes > lower floret, translucent, keel scabrous; callus short-bristly; axis breaking above glumes and between florets; florets 2, fertile; lemma faintly 5-veined, generally glabrous, tip with 2 slender teeth, slightly scabrous, awned at or below middle, awn bent once or straight, exserted (occasionally reduced or 0 in lower floret) or straight; palea slightly < lemma; anthers 3.
Etymology: (Greek: a weedy grass, perhaps a Lolium) Note: Aira cupaniana Guss. [Aira caryophyllea var. cupaniana (Guss.) Fiori] was collected in Contra Costa Co. in 1995, but does not appear to have persisted.
eFlora Treatment Author: James P. Smith, Jr. & Dieter H. Wilken
Reference: Wipff 2007 FNANM 24:615--617
Aira caryophyllea L.
Stem: 1--10, 6--45 cm, generally glabrous (occasionally puberulent just below nodes). Leaf: sheath slightly scabrous; ligule minutely scabrous. Inflorescence: > 1.5 cm wide, open, branches equal; spikelet stalk generally 1--2 × spikelet. Spikelet: 2.4--3.5 mm; glumes 2--3 mm; lemma 1.5--2 mm, awn +- 3 mm. Chromosomes: 2n=24.
Ecology: Sandy soils, open or disturbed sites; Elevation: < 1900 m. Bioregional Distribution: NW, w CaR, SN, GV, CW, e SW; Distribution Outside California: to British Columbia, eastern United States, Baja California; native to Europe. Flowering Time: Apr--Jun
Jepson eFlora Author: James P. Smith, Jr. & Dieter H. Wilken
Reference: Wipff 2007 FNANM 24:615--617
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)

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Botanical illustration including Aira caryophyllea

botanical illustration including Aira caryophyllea

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Citation for this treatment: James P. Smith, Jr. & Dieter H. Wilken 2012, Aira caryophyllea, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on June 13, 2024.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2024, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on June 13, 2024.

Aira caryophyllea
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©2009 Keir Morse
Aira caryophyllea
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©2004 Carol W. Witham
Aira caryophyllea
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©2005 Steve Matson
Aira caryophyllea
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©2005 Steve Matson
Aira caryophyllea
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©2005 Steve Matson

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Geographic subdivisions for Aira caryophyllea:
NW, w CaR, SN, GV, CW, e SW
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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).


Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
View all CCH records
All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

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 (fruiting time in some monocot genera).