Anthoxanthum monticola (Bigelow) Y. Schouten & Veldkamp

alpine sweet 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

Alpine sweet grass has a circumboreal and alpine distribution. It enters New England only at high altitudes in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Like the other sweet grasses (Anthoxanthum) it has a pleasant fragrance when the fresh stems are cut. This fragrance is due to the phytochemical coumarine, which is used in perfumes.

Habitat

Alpine or subalpine zones, mountain summits and plateaus, ridges or ledges

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Maine
  • New Hampshire
  • Vermont
Leaf blade width
0.7–5 mm
Inflorescence branches
the flowers are attached to branches rather than to the main axis of the inflorescence
Spikelet length
5–8 mm
Glume relative length
both glumes are as long or longer than all of the florets
Awn on glume
the glume has no awn
One or more florets
there is more than one floret per spikelet
Lemma awn length
0.6–10.5 mm
Leaf sheath hair type
NA
Leaf ligule length
0.2–1.5 mm
Anther length
1.5–2.7 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Anther length
    1.5–2.7 mm
    Anther number
    2–3
    Awn on glume
    the glume has no awn
    Bristles below spikelets
    no
    Floret lower bract texture
    the lemma is hard and firm
    Floret types within spikelet
    all the florets within a spikelet are similar
    Glume awn length
    0 mm
    Glume relative length
    both glumes are as long or longer than all of the florets
    Glume shape
    the glume is V-shaped in cross-section
    Glume veins
    • 1
    • 3
    • 5
    Glumes per spikelet
    2
    Inflorescence arrangement
    the spikelets are uniform
    Inflorescence axis orientation
    • the inflorescence axis is arched or curved outward
    • the inflorescence axis is straight
    Inflorescence branches
    the flowers are attached to branches rather than to the main axis of the inflorescence
    Inflorescence crowding
    the panicle is somewhat to very congested (crowded), and the branches may not be clearly seen without close inspection
    Inflorescence length
    10–85 mm
    Inflorescence length to width ratio
    0.8–4.3
    Inflorescence type (general)
    the spikelets are borne on stalks or on branches
    Inflorescence type (specific)
    the inflorescence is branched, and the branches do NOT both grow from the same side of the plant AND look like spikes
    Inflorescence width
    12–20 mm
    Inforescence position
    the spikelets are mainly carried at the end of the stem
    Lemma awn base
    • the awn is attached at the lower half of the lemma (it emerges from near the base of the lemma)
    • the awn is attached at the upper half of the lemma
    Lemma awn coiled
    the lemma awn is straight or twisted, but not coiled one half turn
    Lemma awn length
    0.6–10.5 mm
    Lemma awn number
    the lemma has one awn on it
    Lemma awn orientation
    • the awn of the lemma is straight
    • the awn of the lemma on dried or older plants is curved or bent outwards
    Lemma cross-section
    the lemma is V-shaped if you cut across the midpoint
    Lemma hairs
    the lemma has fine hairs between the veins
    Lemma keel hairs
    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
    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)
    • the lemma tip is split into two or more points
    Lemma vein number
    3
    Lower glume length
    5–8 mm
    Lower glume relative length
    the lower glume is nearly as long, or 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
    Spikelet axis tip
    there is no 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
    5–8 mm
    Spikelet number per node
    0
    Spikelets spiny
    the spikelets do not appear spiny
    Upper glume length
    5–8 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
  • Growth form
    Horizontal rooting stem
    no
    Lifespan
    the plant lives more than two years
    Rhizomes
    yes
    Roots
    the plant has rhizomes (horizontal underground stem with roots growing from it)
  • Leaves
    Leaf auricles
    the leaves do not have auricles
    Leaf basal lobe hairy
    NA
    Leaf blade cross-section
    the leaf blade is more or less flat in cross-section, or slightly 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
    • the leaf blade is hairy
    Leaf blade length
    1–12 cm
    Leaf blade texture
    • the leaf blade is rough and sandpapery
    • the leaf blade is smooth, or it may have soft hairs
    Leaf blade width
    0.7–5 mm
    Leaf ligule length
    0.2–1.5 mm
    Leaf ligule type
    the leaf ligule is in the form of a membrane with fine hairs
    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 color and persistence
    • the leaf sheathes are off-white to light-brown and mostly persist in older leaves
    • the leaf sheathes are reddish-brown and disintegrate or become shredded in older leaves
    Leaf sheath hair type
    NA
    Leaf sheath hairs
    there are no hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Maine
    • New Hampshire
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • alpine or subalpine zones
    • mountain summits and plateaus
    • ridges or ledges
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Plant height
    20–75 cm
    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
present
Massachusetts
absent
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
absent
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Maine
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), threatened (code: T)
New Hampshire
rare (S-rank: S2), threatened (code: T)

ssp. monticola

Vermont
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), threatened (code: T)

Native to North America?

Yes

Synonyms

  • Hierochloe alpina (Sw. ex Willd.) Roemer & J.A. Schultes
  • Hierochloe alpina (Sw. ex Willd.) Roemer & J.A. Schultes ssp. orthantha (Sørensen) G. Weim
  • Hierochloe monticola (Bigelow) A. & D. Löve
  • Hierochloe orthantha Sørensen

Family

Poaceae

Genus

Anthoxanthum

Notes on Subspecies and Varieties in New England

Our subspecies is Anthoxanthum monticola (Bigelow) Y. Schouten & Veldkamp ssp. monticola.

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

2.  Anthoxanthum monticola (Bigelow) Y. Schouten & Veldkamp ssp. monticola NC

alpine sweet grass. Hierochloe alpina (Sw. ex Willd.) Roemer & J.A. Schultes; H. alpina (Sw. 
 ex Willd.) Roemer & J.A. Schultes ssp. orthantha (Sørensen) G. Weim; H. monticola (Bigelow) 
A. & D. Löve; H. orthantha Sørensen • ME, NH, VT; northern counties. Alpine ridges and plateaus, growing in open turfs and heaths.