Avenula pubescens (Huds.) Dumort.

downy alpine oat 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

Downy alpine oat grass, native to Europe and Central Asia, is introduced in Canada and some northern states of the United states. Straw from this grass was found lining the shoes of the Iceman (dubbed "Outzi"), a Neolithic man found in 1991, who had been frozen in the ice of the Austrian alps for some 5000 years.

Habitat

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

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Massachusetts
  • Rhode Island
Leaf blade width
2–6 mm
Inflorescence branches
the flowers are attached to branches rather than to the main axis of the inflorescence
Spikelet length
10–26 mm
Glume relative length
both glumes are as long or longer than all of the florets
One or more florets
there is more than one floret per spikelet
Lemma awn length
12–26 mm
Leaf ligule length
5–8 mm
Anther length
5–7 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Anther length
    5–7 mm
    Anther number
    3
    Bristles below spikelets
    no
    Floret lower bract texture
    the lemma is thin and flexible
    Floret number
    2
    Floret types within spikelet
    all the florets within a spikelet are similar
    Glume keel
    the glume keels are rough or hairy
    Glume relative length
    both glumes are as long or longer than all of the florets
    Glume veins
    • 1
    • 3
    Inflorescence arrangement
    the spikelets are uniform
    Inflorescence axis orientation
    • the inflorescence axis bends downwards or hangs
    • the inflorescence axis is straight
    Inflorescence branch length
    0.4–3.5 cm
    Inflorescence branches
    the flowers are attached to branches rather than to the main axis of the inflorescence
    Inflorescence length
    60–200 mm
    Inflorescence length to width ratio
    3–3.3
    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
    20–60 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
    12–26 mm
    Lemma awn number
    the lemma has one awn on it
    Lemma awn orientation
    the awn of the lemma on dried or older plants is curved or bent outwards
    Lemma base hair length
    2–5 mm
    Lemma base hairs
    the lemma has hairs at the base
    Lemma surface
    the surface of the lemma is relatively smooth (not counting any longitudinal veins or hairs)
    Lemma tip
    the lemma tip is split into two or more points
    Lemma tip shape
    the lemma tip tapers to a broad point (it may or may not also have an awn or teeth at the tip)
    Lower glume length
    7–20 mm
    Lower glume relative length
    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 length
    8–12 mm
    Palea relative length
    palea is one half to fully as long as lemma
    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
    10–26 mm
    Spikelet number per node
    0
    Spikelets per panicle branch
    1–4
    Spikelets spiny
    the spikelets do not appear spiny
    Upper glume length
    10–26 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
    yes
    Lifespan
    the plant lives more than two years
  • Leaves
    Leaf auricles
    the leaves do not have auricles
    Leaf basal lobe hairy
    NA
    Leaf blade hairs
    the leaf blade is hairy
    Leaf blade length
    10–40 cm
    Leaf blade width
    2–6 mm
    Leaf ligule length
    5–8 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 fused together and form a closed tube except (possibly) at the very top
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Massachusetts
    • Rhode Island
    Specific habitat
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • meadows or fields
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Plant height
    30–110 cm
    Stem orientation
    the stems are upright
    Stem spacing
    the stems grow close together in compact clusters or tufts

Wetland Status

Not classified

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

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

Conservation Status

None

Native to North America?

No

Sometimes Confused With

Arrhenatherum elatius:
spikelets 7-11 mm long and ligules of upper stem leaves 1-3 mm long (vs. A. pubescens, with spikelets 10-26 mm long and ligules of upper stem leaves 5-8 mm long).

Synonyms

  • Avena pubescens Huds.
  • Helictotrichon pubescens (Huds.) Pilger

Family

Poaceae

Genus

Avenula

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

1.  Avenula pubescens (Huds.) Dumort. E

downy alpine oat grass. Avena pubescens Huds.; Helictotrichon pubescens (Huds.) Pilger • CT, MA, VT. Fields, roadsides, disturbed ground.