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Aquatic and Wetland Vascular Plants of the Northern Great Plains

63. Poaceae, the Grass Family

15. Hordeum L. -- Barley

1. Hordeum jubatum L. -- Foxtail barley


Tufted perennial 2-8 dm tall; culms erect or decumbent at the base. Leaves usually flat, 1-5 mm wide, glabrous; sheaths glabrous, the ligule scarious, truncate, less than 1 mm long. Inflorescence a terminal spike, erect to nodding, 3-10 cm long, bristly due to the long, slender, spreading awns of glumes and lemmas; awns (1.5)2.5-7 cm long. Spikelets 1-flowered, 3 at each node of the rachis, the central spikelet fertile, sessile, the lateral 2 reduced, sterile, with awnlike parts, short-pedicelled; central spikelet with the back of the lemma facing away from the rachis; disarticulation above the glumes on the rachilla and also between the nodes on the rachis; lemma lanceolate with a long-awned tip, the lemma body 4-6 mm long, rather firm, obscurely 5-nerved; palea as long as the lemma body; anthers 0.8-1.6 mm long. Grain tan to brown, oblong, 3 mm long, the lemma and palea adherent to the grain. Jun--Sep. Wet meadows, ditches, shores, shallow marshes, seepage areas and other wet or moist places, often where alkaline or saline, also common as a weed of drier disturbed sites; common, often abundant; (Newf. and Labr. to AK, s to MD, KY, MO, TX, CA and into Mex.).

In e MT a smaller plant with shorter awns 1 cm or less long is known as H. brachyantherum Nevski. There is good evidence that H. jubatum hybridizes with this entity.

See also the comments under Agropyron repens.

GIF- Species Photo/Drawing
Hordeum jubatum, inflorescence (from Hitchcock 1950).
GIF- Distribution Map

Map key


Previous Section -- Hierochloe odorata (L.) Beauv.
Return to Family -- Poaceae - The Grass Family
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