Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Aquatic and Wetland Vascular Plants of the Northern Great Plains
63. Poaceae, the Grass Family
10. Distichlis Raf.
1. Distichlis spicata (L.) Greene -- Saltgrass
Low, extensively rhizomatous, dioecious perennial 1-3 dm tall, the culms
wiry, erect. Leaf blades strongly ascending, the uppermost reaching or
surpassing the panicle, flat to involute, 0.5-3 mm wide, glabrous or with sparse
hairs; sheaths glabrous or sparsely hairy, usually long-hairy at the
collar; ligule inconspicuous. Panicle simple, narrow and contracted,
rather few-flowered, 3-6 cm long. Spikelets several to many, short-pedicelled,
strongly ascending, 8-20 mm long; staminate spikelets stramineous, mostly
8- to 15-flowered; pistillate spikelets greenish-gray, mostly 7- to 9-flowered,
disarticulating above the glumes; glumes unequal, 3- to 7-nerved, the
lateral nerves sometimes obscure, the first glume ovate to lanceolate, 1-4 mm
long, the second glume lanceolate, 2-5 mm long; lemmas ovate, 3-6 mm
long, acute to subacute, keeled, broadly scarious-margined, otherwise firm,
many-nerved; palea nearly as long as the lemma, broader than the lemma
at the base, coriaceous, enclosing the grain in the pistillate floret; anthers
2-3(4) mm long on male plants. Grain dull to coppery brown, the surface
rather wrinkled, lance-subulate, 3-4.5 mm long, including the long tapering
beak. Jun--early Sep. Alkaline or saline flats and shores, also drier sites;
common; (w MN to Sask. and WA, s to TX and CA and into Mex.). D. stricta
Northern Great Plains populations belong to var. stricta (Torr.)
Beetle, which is the inland phase.
Beetle, A. A. 1943. The North American variations of Distichlis spicata.
Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 70:638-650.
Previous Section -- Deschampsia cespitosa (L.)
Beauv. -- Tufted hairgrass
Return to Family -- Poaceae - The Grass
Next Section -- Echinochloa crusgalli (L.) Beauv.