Jepson eFlora: Taxon page
Vascular Plants of California
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Heteropogon contortus

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: HeteropogonView Description 

Habit: Annual or perennial herb, cespitose. Stem: erect, densely clumped. Leaf: cauline; sheaths keeled; ligule membranous; blade flat or folded. Inflorescence: raceme-like, numerous, long-stalked, with dissimilar spikelet pairs. Spikelet: in pairs, on 1 side of axis; spikelets of lower 1--4 pairs +- equal, sterile or staminate; spikelets of upper pairs unequal, sessile spikelet bisexual, glumes tightly enclosing florets, florets 2, lower vestigial, upper fertile, lemma translucent, tip awned; stalked spikelet staminate or sterile, awn 0; pair breaking below sessile spikelet. Fruit: lanceolate, with a groove.
Species In Genus: 8--10 species: warm temperate, tropics. Etymology: (Greek: different beard, from awned and awnless spikelets)
eFlora Treatment Author: Elizabeth M. Skendzic
Heteropogon contortus (L.) Roem. & Schult.
Habit: Perennial herb. Stem: 2--10 dm. Leaf: blade 6--20 cm, 4--8 mm wide. Inflorescence: 4--8 cm. Spikelet: of lower pairs 6--10 mm; sessile spikelets of upper pairs 5--10 mm, glume dark brown, sharp-pointed, callus hairs red-brown, awn 6--10 cm, puberulent; stalked spikelets of upper pairs 6--10 mm, glumes glabrous or with hairs on papillae. Chromosomes: 2n=40, 50, 60.
Ecology: Uncommon. Rocky slopes, washes, open areas; Elevation: < 800 m. Bioregional Distribution: SCo (San Diego Co.), DSon; Distribution Outside California: southern United States, Mexico. Flowering Time: Mar--Nov
Jepson eFlora Author: Elizabeth M. Skendzic
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)
Noxious Weed listed by CDFA
Weed listed by Cal-IPC

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Botanical illustration including Heteropogon contortus

botanical illustration including Heteropogon contortus


Citation for this treatment: Elizabeth M. Skendzic 2012, Heteropogon contortus, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, /eflora/eflora_display.php?tid=28074, accessed on October 27, 2020.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2020, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on October 27, 2020.

Heteropogon contortus
click for enlargement
© 2008 Steve Matson
Heteropogon contortus
click for enlargement
© 2008 Steve Matson
Heteropogon contortus
click for enlargement
© 2008 Steve Matson
Heteropogon contortus
click for enlargement
© 2008 Steve Matson
Heteropogon contortus
click for enlargement
© 2008 Steve Matson
Heteropogon contortus
click for enlargement
© 2008 Steve Matson

More photos of Heteropogon contortus in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Heteropogon contortus:
SCo (San Diego Co.), DSon
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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).


View elevation by latitude chart

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).