Jepson eFlora: Taxon page
Vascular Plants of California
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Luzula spicata subsp. spicata

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 spicata (L.) DC. subsp. spicata
Habit: Plant densely cespitose, 5--32 cm. Leaf: channeled, at least distally, tip acute to acuminate (at 10× magnification), generally not thickened and rounded; basal leaves numerous, 0.5--3 mm wide. Inflorescence: congested, dense, dark, head-like to oblong, terminal head nodding at maturity, often interrupted at base, mostly unbranched, rarely with 1--3 small lateral heads, unbranched, sessile or on peduncles < 5 mm; middle bract lance-ovate, acuminate, membranous; lower bract < or > inflorescence, green or brown-membranous. Flower: perianth parts 2.2--2.8(3.3) mm, lance-oblong, acuminate, dark brown to dark purple or black, often with wide pale margins; anthers 0.4--0.7 mm, <= filaments. Fruit: valves 1.4--2.3 mm, < perianth. Seed: oblong, 0.9--1.2 mm, 0.5--0.7 mm wide; appendage 0.10--0.15 mm. Chromosomes: 2n=24.
Ecology: Rocky alpine slopes and meadows; Elevation: 2900--3800 m. Bioregional Distribution: SNH, Wrn, SNE; Distribution Outside California: to Alaska, Alberta, New Mexico; New York to Greenland; Eurasia, northwest Africa. Fruiting Time: Jul--Sep Note: Depauperate plants can resemble L. orestera, but have leaf tips sharp-pointed, not thick and blunt. In the field, our only CA species with a dense inflorescence that nods at maturity, often obscured in pressed specimens.
Synonyms: Juncoides spicata (L.) Kuntze; Juncus spicatus L.; Luzula spicata subsp. saximontana Á. Löve & D. Löve; Luzula spicata var. nova Smiley
Jepson eFlora Author: Jan Kirschner & Peter Zika
Reference: Zika et al. 2015 Phytotaxa 192:201--229
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)

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Botanical illustration including Luzula spicata subsp. spicata

botanical illustration including Luzula spicata subsp. spicata

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Citation for this treatment: Jan Kirschner & Peter Zika 2023, Luzula spicata subsp. spicata, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, Revision 12,, accessed on June 21, 2024.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2024, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on June 21, 2024.

No expert verified images found for Luzula spicata subsp. spicata.

Geographic subdivisions for Luzula spicata subsp. spicata:
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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).