Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
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.
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