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Vascular Plants of California
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Luzula parviflora

Higher Taxonomy
Family: JuncaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key
Common Name: RUSH FAMILY
Habit: Annual, perennial herb generally from rhizomes. Stem: round or flat. Leaf: generally basal; sheath margins fused, or overlapping and generally with 2 ear-like extensions at blade junction; blade round, flat, or vestigial, glabrous or margin hairy. Inflorescence: head-like clusters or flowers 1, variously arranged; bracts subtending inflorescence 2, generally leaf-like; bracts subtending inflorescence branches 1--2, reduced; bractlets subtending flowers generally 1--2, generally translucent. Flower: generally bisexual, radial; sepals and petals similar, persistent, scale-like, green to brown or +- purple-black; stamens generally 3 or 6, anthers linear, persistent; pistil 1, ovary superior, chambers generally 1 or 3, placentas 1 and basal or 3 and axile or parietal, stigmas generally > style. Fruit: capsule, loculicidal. Seed: 3--many, generally with white appendages on 1 or both ends.
Genera In Family: 7 genera, 440 species: temperate, arctic, and tropical mountains. Note: Flowers late spring to early fall.
eFlora Treatment Author: Peter F. Zika, except as noted
Scientific Editor: Douglas H. Goldman, Bruce G. Baldwin.
Genus: LuzulaView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: Perennial herb, cespitose or rhizomed, rhizome inconspicuous or not, ascending to vertical, or horizontal. Stem: cylindric, base bulb-like or not. Leaf: generally basal, cauline few; blades linear, flat or channeled, margins and sheath opening generally sparsely to densely long-soft-hairy (glabrous in L. divaricata). Inflorescence: panicles of 1--many flowers per branch, or head-like to ovoid, or umbels of dense cylindric spikes; lower bract leaf-like at base, membranous distally, bracts subtending branches, bractlets subtending flowers 1--3, margins ciliate or not, jagged to entire. Flower: perianth parts 6, pale brown to black; stamens 6; pistil chamber 1, placenta basal. Fruit: opening with 3 valves. Seed: 3, ellipsoid to broadly oblong or ovoid, ridged on 1 side, occasionally attached to placenta by tuft of hairs, generally with dull white fleshy appendage at tip.
Etymology: (Latin: a small light, shiny; Italian: firefly -- some plants sparkling with dew or hairs) Note: Measure seed length when dry, including appendage, but not hair tuft. When well-developed, fleshy seed appendage (aril, or caruncle) attracts ants to aid dispersal. As in Carex and Juncus, collections in flower or lacking carefully extracted basal parts difficult to identify accurately. Stamen, stigma, and style measurements are for fruiting plants; stigma and style lengths measured separately; gather samples with ripe capsules and mature seeds. Reports of Luzula campestris (L.) DC. in strict sense, L. congesta (Thuill.) Lej., L. glabrata (Hoppe) Desv., L. multiflora (Ehrh.) Lej. in strict sense, and L. sudetica (Willd.) Schult. in CA not supported by specimens.
eFlora Treatment Author: Jan Kirschner & Peter Zika
Reference: Zika et al. 2015 Phytotaxa 192:201--229
Luzula parviflora (Ehrh.) Desv.
Habit: Plant loosely cespitose, 30--108 cm, lower stem often reddish; rhizome ascending; stolons short (0). Leaf: flat, tip swollen and blunt or slightly swollen and acute; bright green to mid-green, shiny, turning red-brown to orange in autumn; basal leaves 4--8 mm wide; cauline (3)4--5, to 7--11.5 cm, 3--8 mm wide, lanceolate, acuminate, sheath mouth often hairy. Inflorescence: loose, main branches occasionally to 14 cm, mature inflorescence straight and stiff to arching or nodding, if stiffly branched +- ovoid to +- lanceolate in outline; 4--26 cm, 3--13 cm wide; flowers mostly 1, occasionally a few in small clusters of 2--4, at tips of branches; bractlets generally not ciliate; lower bracts 1.5--4 cm, < inflorescence. Flower: perianth parts 1.3--2.5 mm, acute to acuminate, upper margin often entire, generally pale to brown (dark brown), appressed to erect or only slightly curved; anthers 0.2--0.55 mm; style 0.1--0.3 mm, stigmas 0.6--0.9 mm. Fruit: >= perianth, oblong-elliptic, acute to acuminate; valves 1.9--2.4 mm, 1--1.3 mm wide, generally pale to brown. Seed: 1.1--1.3 mm, 0.6--0.7 mm wide; appendage 0--0.1 mm. Chromosomes: 2n=24.
Ecology: Mesic to moist places in conifer woodland, forest edges, streambanks, trailsides, often shaded; Elevation: < 3400 m. Bioregional Distribution: NW exc NCoRI, CaRH, SNH, Wrn; Distribution Outside California: to Alaska, South Dakota, New Mexico; southern Canada to eastern North America; Eurasia. Fruiting Time: Apr--Aug Note: Woodland plants with drooping branches easily recognized. Stiffness, length of inflorescence branches too variable within populations to recognize subsp. fastigiata. Rigid extremes sometimes mistaken for L. divaricata. At high elevations occasionally confused with L. subcongesta when some flowers in small clusters at branch tips. Our plants mostly with shiny green leaves, pale perianth and capsules, but some CaR, Wrn populations with dark perianth and/or dark capsules, and plants sometimes with blue-green foliage, approaching L. piperi but lacking its strongly curly-ciliate bracts, bractlets.
Synonyms: Juncoides parviflora (Ehrh.) Cov.; Juncus melanocarpus Michx.; Juncus parviflorus Ehrh.; Luzula parviflora (Ehrh.) Desv. subsp. fastigiata (E. Mey.) Hämet-Ahti; Luzula parviflora (Ehrh.) Desv. subsp. melanocarpa (Michx.) Tolm.; Luzula parviflora (Ehrh.) Desv. var. fastigiata (E. Mey.) Buchenau; Luzula parviflora (Ehrh.) Desv. var. melanocarpa (Michx.) A. Gray; Luzula parviflora (Ehrh.) Desv. var. parviflora
Jepson eFlora Author: Jan Kirschner & Peter Zika
Reference: Hämet-Ahti 1971 Ann Bot Fenn 8:368--381
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)

Previous taxon: Luzula orestera
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Botanical illustration including Luzula parviflorabotanical illustration including Luzula parviflora

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Citation for this treatment: Jan Kirschner & Peter Zika 2023, Luzula parviflora, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, Revision 12,, accessed on July 24, 2024.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2024, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on July 24, 2024.

Luzula parviflora
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©2005 George W. Hartwell
Luzula parviflora
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©2004 Steve Matson
Luzula parviflora
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©2004 Steve Matson
Luzula parviflora
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©2004 Steve Matson
Luzula parviflora
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©2004 Steve Matson

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in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Luzula parviflora:
NW exc NCoRI, CaRH, SNH, Wrn
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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 occurrence).


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 Flowering-Fruiting Monthly Counts

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).