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Vascular Plants of California
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Cynosurus echinatus

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: CynosurusView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: Annual, perennial herb. Stem: generally 1--8 dm, erect. Leaf: generally basal; ligule membranous, truncate, rough-edged, or ciliate; blade 3--15 cm, 2.5--14 mm wide, flat, glabrous to pubescent. Inflorescence: terminal, spike- or panicle-like, cylindric, ovoid to head-like, dense; spikelets laterally compressed, generally paired, subsessile to short-stalked, of 2 kinds, 1 sterile, 1 fertile. Fertile Spikelet: bisexual; glumes +- equal, lanceolate, 1-veined, keeled, awn generally 0; florets 1--5; axis extended beyond uppermost floret, breaking above glumes and between florets; lemma back rounded, faintly 5-veined, awned [or not]; palea +- = lemma, 2-lobed. Sterile Spikelet: sometimes obscuring fertile spikelet; glume narrow, linear; florets 6--18, axis not breaking apart; lemma narrow, lance-linear, rigid, 1-veined, awned or not. Chromosomes: 2n=14.
Etymology: (Greek: dog + tail, from shape of inflorescence)
eFlora Treatment Author: James P. Smith, Jr.
Reference: Long 2007 FNANM 24:685--687
Unabridged Reference: Jirasek & Chrtek 1964 Novit Bot Delect Seminum Horti Bot Univ Carol Prag 1964:23--27; Lodge 1959 J Ecol 47:511--518
Cynosurus echinatus L.
Habit: Tufted, glabrous. Stem: 1--7 dm. Leaf: ligules 2.5--5 mm, obtuse, entire; blade 2--14 mm wide. Inflorescence: generally 1--4 cm, +- 1-sided; central axis linear, not flat. Fertile Spikelet: glume 6--12 mm, awned; florets 1--5. Sterile Spikelet: glume keeled, ciliate, long-pointed; florets 6--18; lemma awn < 8 mm. Chromosomes: 2n=14,16.
Ecology: Open, disturbed sites; Elevation: generally < 1000 m. Bioregional Distribution: NW, SNF, n&c SNH, ScV, CW, SW; Distribution Outside California: to Washington, eastern North America; native to southern Europe. Flowering Time: May--Jul
Jepson eFlora Author: James P. Smith, Jr.
Reference: Long 2007 FNANM 24:685--687
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)
View the CDFA Pest Rating page for Cynosurus echinatus
Weed listed by Cal-IPC

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Botanical illustration including Cynosurus echinatus

botanical illustration including Cynosurus echinatus

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Citation for this treatment: James P. Smith, Jr. 2012, Cynosurus echinatus, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 14, 2024.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2024, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 14, 2024.

Cynosurus echinatus
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©2004 Keir Morse
Cynosurus echinatus
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©2009 Thomas Stoughton
Cynosurus echinatus
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©2008 Keir Morse
Cynosurus echinatus
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©2009 Keir Morse
Cynosurus echinatus
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©2008 Keir Morse

More photos of Cynosurus echinatus
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Geographic subdivisions for Cynosurus echinatus:
NW, SNF, n&c SNH, ScV, CW, 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).