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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 (Torr.) Rydb.

Northern Great Plains populations belong to var. stricta (Torr.) Beetle, which is the inland phase.

Reference:

Beetle, A. A.  1943.  The North American variations of Distichlis spicata.
     Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 70:638-650.
GIF- Species Photo/Drawing
Distichlis spicata (from Hitchcock 1950, as D. stricta).
GIF- Distribution Map

Map key


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