Agropyron desertorum (Fisch. ex Link) J.A. Schultes

clustered wheat grass

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Clustered wheat grass hails from Russia and the Siberian steppe. It was introduced to the United States in 1906, and became common from 1930 when it was extensively sown into abandoned croplands. It now occupies tens of millions of acres, mostly in the west and southwest. A rare visitor to New England, clustered wheat grass has been collected in Massachusetts.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), meadows and fields

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
Massachusetts
Leaf blade width
1–3 mm
Inflorescence branches
there are no branch points between the base of the inflorescence axis and the flowers, or they are not obvious
Spikelet length
5–12 mm
Glume relative length
neither glume is quite as long as all of the florets
Awn on glume
the glume has an awn
One or more florets
there is more than one floret per spikelet
Lemma awn length
1–3 mm
Leaf sheath hair type
  • there are hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath, but the hairs do not have blisters at their bases
  • there are no hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath
Anther length
3–5 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Anther length
    3–5 mm
    Anther number
    3
    Awn on glume
    the glume has an awn
    Bristles below spikelets
    no
    Floret lower bract texture
    the lemma is thin and flexible
    Floret number
    4–7
    Floret types within spikelet
    all the florets within a spikelet are similar
    Glume awn length
    1–3 mm
    Glume keel
    • the glume keels are rough or hairy
    • the glume keels are smooth and hairless
    Glume relative length
    neither glume is quite as long as all of the florets
    Glume shape
    the glume is V-shaped in cross-section
    Glume veins
    3
    Glumes per spikelet
    2
    Inflorescence arrangement
    the spikelets are uniform
    Inflorescence axis hairs
    the inflorescence axis is hairy but not rough or sand-papery feeling
    Inflorescence axis orientation
    • the inflorescence axis is arched or curved outward
    • the inflorescence axis is straight
    Inflorescence branch length
    0 cm
    Inflorescence branch roughness
    NA
    Inflorescence branches
    there are no branch points between the base of the inflorescence axis and the flowers, or they are not obvious
    Inflorescence branches coming off the lowest stem node
    0
    Inflorescence crowding
    NA
    Inflorescence length
    25–80 mm
    Inflorescence length to width ratio
    5–8
    Inflorescence type (general)
    the inflorescence is a spike, or is spike-like, lacking obvious branches
    Inflorescence type (specific)
    the inflorescence is a spike (a long unbranched stem with flowers along it that lack stalks)
    Inflorescence width
    5–10 mm
    Inforescence position
    the spikelets are mainly carried at the end of the stem
    Lemma awn base
    the awn is attached right at the tip of the lemma
    Lemma awn coiled
    the lemma awn is straight or twisted, but not coiled one half turn
    Lemma awn length
    1–3 mm
    Lemma awn number
    the lemma has one awn on it
    Lemma awn orientation
    the awn of the lemma is straight
    Lemma cross-section
    the lemma is V-shaped if you cut across the midpoint
    Lemma hairs
    • the lemma has fine hairs between the veins
    • the lemma is hairless between the veins
    Lemma keel hairs
    • the keel of the lemma is hairless
    • the keel of the lemma is rough, or has fine hairs
    Lemma marginal vein hairs
    • the marginal vein of the lemma has fine hairs on it
    • the marginal vein of the lemma is hairless
    Lemma surface
    the surface of the lemma is relatively smooth (not counting any longitudinal veins or hairs)
    Lemma tip
    the lemma tip is a simple point, with or without an awn (long narrow extension ending in a point)
    Lemma tip shape
    the lemma tip tapers to a narrow point (it may or may not also have an awn or teeth at the tip)
    Lemma vein number
    5
    Lemma vein orientation
    the veins on the lemma stay roughly parallel throughout
    Lower glume length
    2–4.5 mm
    Lower glume relative length
    • the lower glume is nearly as long, or as long as, the upper glume
    • the lower glume is one third to three quarters as long as the upper glume
    One or more florets
    there is more than one floret per spikelet
    Palea relative length
    palea is one half to fully as long as lemma
    Reproductive system
    all the flowers on the plant have both carpels and stamens (synoecious)
    Spikelet axis tip
    there is an extension of the spikelet axis beyond the tip of the spikelet
    Spikelet disintegration
    the spikelet breaks off above the glumes, so that after the florets fall off, the glumes remain
    Spikelet length
    5–12 mm
    Spikelet number per node
    1
    Spikelet pedicel
    the spikelets do not have pedicels
    Spikelet position
    NA
    Spikelet shape
    the spikelets are oblong (rectangular, but with rounded ends) in profile
    Spikelet width
    3–5 mm
    Spikelets per panicle branch
    0
    Spikelets spiny
    the spikelets do not appear spiny
    Tip of glume
    the tip of the glume is not divided (though it may have an awn on it)
    Upper glume length
    3–5 mm
    Upper glume relative length
    the upper glume is more than one half as long as the lowest lemma
    Upper glume shape
    the upper glume is widest at or below the middle
  • Fruits or seeds
    Groove on seed
    the caryopsis has a groove running most of its length
  • Growth form
    Horizontal rooting stem
    no
    Lifespan
    the plant lives more than two years
    Rhizomes
    no
    Roots
    there are only slender roots on the plant
  • Leaves
    Leaf auricles
    the leaves have auricles
    Leaf basal lobe hairy
    the lobes at the base of the leaf blades are hairless
    Leaf blade cross-section
    the leaf blade is clearly folded or rolled inwards
    Leaf blade hairs
    the leaf blade is hairless, but it may have tiny prickles that give it a sand-papery feel
    Leaf blade length
    4–12 cm
    Leaf blade texture
    the leaf blade is rough and sandpapery
    Leaf blade width
    1–3 mm
    Leaf ligule type
    the leaf ligule is in the form of a membrane
    Leaf margin glands
    there are no glands along the edges of the leaf blade
    Leaf sheath closed around stem
    the margins of the leaf sheath are overlapping and not fused together except in the basal half (or less)
    Leaf sheath hair type
    • there are hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath, but the hairs do not have blisters at their bases
    • there are no hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath
    Leaf sheath hairs
    • there are hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath
    • there are no hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    Massachusetts
    Specific habitat
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • meadows or fields
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Hairs at nodes
    the stem nodes are hairless or they have very sparse hairs
    Plant height
    20–70 cm
    Stem hairs
    • the stem has hairs on it
    • the stem is nearly to completely hairless
    Stem orientation
    • the stems are upright
    • the stems trail at the base, but turn upwards at the tips
    Stem spacing
    the stems grow close together in compact clusters or tufts

Wetland Status

Not classified

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
absent
Maine
absent
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
absent
Rhode Island
absent
Vermont
absent

Conservation Status

None

Native to North America?

No

Sometimes Confused With

Agropyron cristatum:
spikes 8-23 mm wide and spikelets diverging from the inflorescence rachis at an angle of 45-90 degrees (vs. A. desertorum, with spikes 5-10 mm wide and spikelets diverging from the inflorescence rachis at an angle of 25-45 degrees).

Synonyms

  • A. cristatum (L.) Gaert. var. desertorum (Fisch. ex Link) Dorn
  • Agropyron cristatum (L.) Gaert. ssp. desertorum (Fisch. ex Link) 
A. Löve

Family

Poaceae

Genus

Agropyron

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

2.  Agropyron desertorum (Fisch. ex Link) J.A. Schultes E

clustered wheat grass. Agropyron cristatum (L.) Gaert. ssp. desertorum (Fisch. ex Link) 
A. Löve; A. cristatum (L.) Gaert. var. desertorum (Fisch. ex Link) Dorn • MA. Fields, roadsides, waste places.