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Bulbostylis capillaris

Higher Taxonomy
Family: CyperaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Annual, perennial herb, often rhizomed or stoloned, often of wet open places; roots fibrous; monoecious, dioecious, or flowers bisexual. Stem: generally 3-sided, generally solid. Leaf: generally 3-ranked; base sheathing, sheath generally closed, ligule generally 0; blade (0 or) linear, parallel-veined. Inflorescence: spikelets generally arranged in head-, spike-, raceme-, or panicle-like inflorescences; flower generally sessile in axil of flower bract, enclosed in a sac-like structure (perigynium) or generally not. Flower: unisexual or bisexual, small, generally wind-pollinated; perianth 0 or generally bristle like; stamens generally 3, anthers attached at base, 4 chambered; ovary superior, chamber 1, ovule 1, style 2--3(4)-branched. Fruit: achene, 2--3 sided.
Genera In Family: +- 100 genera, 5000 species: especially temperate. Note: Difficult; taxa differ in technical characters of inflorescence, fruit. In Carex and Kobresia, what appear to be individual pistillate flowers in fact are highly reduced inflorescences (whether or not the same applies to staminate flowers is still under debate). In some other works (e.g., FNANM) these are called spikelets, and they are treated as being arranged in spikes. Here and in TJM (1993), what appear to be individual pistillate flowers are called pistillate flowers in Carex (and they are treated as being arranged in spikelets), but spikelets in Kobresia (and they are treated as being arranged into spikes). Though internally inconsistent, the approach here is consistent with traditional usage, and reflects a preference for character states that may be determined in the field. Molecular, morphological, and embryological evidence indicates that Eriophorum crinigerum is to be segregated to a new genus, as Calliscirpus criniger (A. Gray) C.N. Gilmour et al., along with a second, newly described species, Calliscirpus brachythrix C.N. Gilmour et al. (Gilmour et al. 2013); key to genera modified by Peter W. Ball to include Calliscirpus.
eFlora Treatment Author: S. Galen Smith, except as noted
Scientific Editor: S. Galen Smith, Thomas J. Rosatti, Bruce G. Baldwin.
Genus: BulbostylisView Description 

Habit: Annual [perennial herb], 2--30[50] cm, rhizomes 0. Stem: < 0.5[1] mm wide, +- 5-angled, glabrous or scabrous, solid. Leaf: several, basal, spiraled, flower stem with 1+ cauline; sheath margin distally ciliate, with hairs +- 1 mm, soft; ligule 0; blade well developed, < 0.5[1] mm wide, C-shaped in ×-section proximally. Inflorescence: 1, terminal [(> 1, some in leaf axils)], branched, umbel-like [head-like or of 1 spikelet]; inflorescence bracts (1)several, longest < to > inflorescence, leaf-like; spikelets 1--5 [> 5], 2--5 mm, 1--1.5 mm wide, cylindric; flower bracts 6--30[50], 1.5--2 mm, spiraled, each with 1 flower in axil, puberulent, midrib keeled, tip shallow-notched or not, mucronate or not. Flower: bisexual; perianth 0; style [2]3-branched, base enlarged, persistent. Fruit: > 1 mm, wide-obovate, thick-(2)3-sided, wavy-ridged or papillate.
Etymology: (Latin: bulb-like style)
eFlora Treatment Author: S. Galen Smith
Reference: Kral 2002 FNANM 23:131--136
Unabridged Reference: Kral 1971 Sida 4:57--227
Bulbostylis capillaris (L.) C.B. Clarke
Stem: generally > leaves. Leaf: blade < 0.5 mm wide. Inflorescence: spikelets 1--7, 2--5 mm, 1--1.5 mm wide; flower bracts ovate. Fruit: 0.5--0.7 mm, pale brown, transverse-wavy-ridged, angles sharp, tubercle +- round. Chromosomes: 2n=84.
Ecology: Open damp/dry sandy-gravelly soil; Elevation: 300--2200 m. Bioregional Distribution: CaRH, n SNF, SNH; Distribution Outside California: to eastern North America, Caribbean, Central America, South America, Asia, Pacific Islands. Flowering Time: Jun--Jul Note: Superficially resembles Fimbristylis autumnalis (L.) Roem. & Schult., which has leaf blades wider and generally proximally flat, sheath summit with short (<< 0.5 mm) hairs on margin and across sheath (resembling a ligule), and flower bracts glabrous.
Synonyms: Scirpus capillaris L.; Fimbristylis capillaris (L.) A. Gray; Stenophyllus capillaris (L.) Britton
Jepson eFlora Author: S. Galen Smith
Reference: Kral 2002 FNANM 23:131--136
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)
Listed on CNPS Rare Plant Inventory

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Botanical illustration including Bulbostylis capillaris

botanical illustration including Bulbostylis capillaris


Citation for this treatment: S. Galen Smith 2012, Bulbostylis capillaris, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on February 03, 2023.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2023, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on February 03, 2023.

Bulbostylis capillaris
click for enlargement
© 2003 Steve Matson
Bulbostylis capillaris
click for enlargement
© 2003 Steve Matson
Bulbostylis capillaris
click for enlargement
© 2003 Steve Matson
Bulbostylis capillaris
click for enlargement
© 2003 Steve Matson
Bulbostylis capillaris
click for enlargement
© 2003 Steve Matson
Bulbostylis capillaris
click for enlargement
© 2003 Steve Matson

More photos of Bulbostylis capillaris in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Bulbostylis capillaris:
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2. County and Jepson Region polygons can be turned off and on using the check boxes.
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).