Echinochloa muricata (Beauv.) Fern.

American barnyard 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

American barnyard grass is found in damp, sandy shores, fields and disturbed areas in all New England states. Archaeological evidence suggests that the plant was used prehistorically for thatching and matting and the seeds were possibly used for food.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), meadows and fields, shores of rivers or lakes

Characteristics

Habitat
  • terrestrial
  • wetlands
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Leaf blade width
0.8–30 mm
Inflorescence branches
the flowers are attached to branches rather than to the main axis of the inflorescence
Spikelet length
2.5–5 mm
Glume relative length
  • both glumes are as long or longer than all of the florets
  • neither glume is quite as long as all of the florets
Awn on glume
  • the glume has an awn
  • the glume has no awn
One or more florets
  • there is more than one floret per spikelet
  • there is one floret per spikelet
Lemma awn length
0–16 mm
Leaf sheath hair type
there are no hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath
Leaf ligule length
0 mm
Anther length
0.4–1.1 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Anther length
    0.4–1.1 mm
    Anther number
    3
    Awn on glume
    • the glume has an awn
    • the glume has no awn
    Bristles below spikelets
    no
    Floret lower bract texture
    the lemma is hard and firm
    Floret number
    1–2
    Floret types within spikelet
    • NA
    • there are at least two distinct forms of florets within one spikelet
    Glume awn length
    At least 0 mm
    Glume keel
    the glume keels are rough or hairy
    Glume relative length
    • both glumes are as long or longer than all of the florets
    • neither glume is quite as long as all of the florets
    Glume shape
    the glume is flat or curved in cross-section
    Glume veins
    • 0
    • 1
    • 3
    • 5
    • 7 or more
    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
    • the inflorescence axis is smooth and has no hairs
    Inflorescence axis orientation
    • the inflorescence axis is arched or curved outward
    • the inflorescence axis is straight
    Inflorescence branch length
    2–8 cm
    Inflorescence branch roughness
    the inflorescence branches are smooth or only slightly rough
    Inflorescence branches
    the flowers are attached to branches rather than to the main axis of the inflorescence
    Inflorescence branches coming off the lowest stem node
    1
    Inflorescence crowding
    the panicle is somewhat to very spread out, with clearly-evident branches
    Inflorescence length
    70–350 mm
    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
    Inforescence position
    the spikelets are mainly carried at the end of the stem
    Lemma awn base
    • NA
    • 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
    0–16 mm
    Lemma awn number
    • the lemma has no awn
    • the lemma has one awn on it
    Lemma awn orientation
    the awn of the lemma is straight
    Lemma base hair length
    0 mm
    Lemma base hairs
    the lemma is hairless or feels just a tiny bit rough at the base
    Lemma base length
    0 mm
    Lemma cross-section
    the lemma is flat or rounded if you cut across the midpoint
    Lemma hairs
    the lemma is hairless 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)
    Lemma tip shape
    • the lemma tip tapers to a long narrow point (it may or may not also have an awn or teeth at the tip)
    • 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
    Lower glume length
    0.9–2.6 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
    • there is 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 no extension of the spikelet axis beyond the tip of the spikelet
    Spikelet disintegration
    the spikelet breaks off below the glumes
    Spikelet length
    2.5–5 mm
    Spikelet number per node
    0
    Spikelet pedicel
    • the spikelets do not have pedicels
    • the spikelets have pedicels
    Spikelet position
    the spikelets emerge from both the upper and lower halves of the inflorescence branches
    Spikelet width
    1.4–2.2 mm
    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
    2.8–5 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
    Seed length
    1.2–2.5 mm
  • Growth form
    Horizontal rooting stem
    no
    Lifespan
    the plant lives only a single year or less
    Rhizomes
    no
    Roots
    there are only slender roots on the plant
  • Leaves
    Basal leaves
    the plant has few or no leaves coming from the base of the flowering stem
    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 length
    1–27 cm
    Leaf blade texture
    the leaf blade is rough and sandpapery
    Leaf blade width
    0.8–30 mm
    Leaf ligule length
    0 mm
    Leaf ligule type
    the leaf ligule is absent
    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 no hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath
    Leaf sheath hairs
    there are no hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath
  • Place
    Habitat
    • terrestrial
    • wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • meadows or fields
    • shores of rivers or lakes
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Hairs at nodes
    the stem nodes are hairless or they have very sparse hairs
    Plant height
    80–160 cm
    Roots at lower stem nodes
    • no
    • yes
    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

Occurs only in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: OBL)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

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

Conservation Status

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

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

var. microstachya

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

var. muricata

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Echinochloa crus-galli:
coriaceous portion of upper lemmas rounded at apex, abruptly transitioning to an early withering, membranous apex, the two regions separated by a line of minute hairs (vs. E. muricata, with the coriaceous portion of upper lemmas acute to acuminate at apex, gradually transitioning from the coriaceous body into the membranous tip, the two regions not offset by a line of minute hairs).

Synonyms

  • Echinochloa pungens (Poir.) Rydb.

Family

Poaceae

Genus

Echinochloa

Notes on Subspecies and Varieties in New England

Variety microstachya is known from CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Variety muricata is known from CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT.

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

4.  Echinochloa muricata (Beauv.) Fern. N

American barnyard grass.  4a. Echinochloa microstachya (Wieg.) Rydb.; E. pungens (Poir.) Rydb. var. microstachya (Wieg.) Fern. & Grisc.; E. pungens (Poir.) Rydb. var. wiegandii Fassett;  4b. Echinochloa pungens (Poir.) Rydb. • CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Damp sandy shorelines, fields, roadsides, disturbed soil.

1a.  Spikelets 2.5–3.8 mm long; lower lemmas unawned or with awns to 6 (–10) mm long 
 … 4a. E. muricata var. microstachya Wieg.

1b.  Spikelets 3.5–5 mm long; lower lemmas with awns 6–16 mm long

4b. E. muricata var. muricata

Variety microstachya is known from CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Variety muricata is known from CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT.