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Vascular Plants of California
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Holcus lanatus

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: HolcusView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: (Annual) perennial herb, generally cespitose or from rhizomes; glabrous to velvety soft-hairy. Leaf: generally basal; ligule membranous, truncate, puberulent; blade flat. Inflorescence: panicle-like, +- congested to open. Spikelet: laterally compressed, breaking below glumes, falling as 1 unit; glumes +- equal, lower 1-veined, upper 3-veined; florets generally 2(3), lower floret bisexual, upper staminate or sterile; callus hairy; lemma +- 2 mm, shiny, membranous, faintly 3--5-veined, lemma of lower floret awnless, lemma of upper floret awned near 2-lobed tip; palea +- = lemma.
Species In Genus: +- 8 species: temperate Eurasia, Africa. Etymology: (Latin: a grass)
eFlora Treatment Author: Dieter H. Wilken
Reference: Standley 2007 FNANM 24:739--741
Unabridged Reference: Beddows 1971 Bot J Linn Soc 64:183--198
Holcus lanatus L.
Stem: ascending to erect, 2--10 dm. Leaf: ligule 1--4 mm, truncate, jagged-ciliate; blade 5--18 cm, 4--9 mm wide. Inflorescence: 7--15 cm. Spikelet: glumes 3--6 mm, +- purple, short-hairy on back, keel long-hairy; lemma 3--4 mm. Chromosomes: 2n=14.
Ecology: Moist sites, roadbanks, cultivated fields, meadows; Elevation: < 2400 m. Bioregional Distribution: CA (exc DSon); Distribution Outside California: to Alaska, Canada; widespread United States, South America; native to Europe. Flowering Time: Jun--Aug Note: Cult for forage, hay.
Jepson eFlora Author: Dieter H. Wilken
Reference: Standley 2007 FNANM 24:739--741
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)
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Botanical illustration including Holcus lanatus

botanical illustration including Holcus lanatus


Citation for this treatment: Dieter H. Wilken 2012, Holcus lanatus, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 13, 2021.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2021, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 13, 2021.

Holcus lanatus
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© 2008 Steve Matson
Holcus lanatus
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© 2002 Steve Matson
Holcus lanatus
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© 2008 Steve Matson
Holcus lanatus
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© 2011 Barry Breckling
Holcus lanatus
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© 2008 Steve Matson
Holcus lanatus
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© 2008 Keir Morse

More photos of Holcus lanatus in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Holcus lanatus:
CA (exc 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).


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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).