Elymus glabriflorus (Vasey ex Dewey) Scribn. & Ball

southeastern wild-rye

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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

Southeastern wild-rye is a rare native grass of dry to moist oak (Quercus) and hickory (Carya) forests, where it inhabits shallow soils. It reaches the northern edge of its range in New England. Its very long awns give the spikes a scruffy look during flowering time in late June and July.

Habitat

Forests, ridges or ledges

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Massachusetts
  • Rhode Island
Leaf blade width
7–15 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
10–20 mm
Glume relative length
both glumes are as long or longer than 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
15–40 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
Leaf ligule length
0.5–1 mm
Anther length
2–4 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Anther length
    2–4 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
    2–6
    Floret types within spikelet
    there are at least two distinct forms of florets within one spikelet
    Glume awn length
    10–30 mm
    Glume keel
    NA
    Glume relative length
    both glumes are as long or longer than all of the florets
    Glume shape
    the glume is flat or curved in cross-section
    Glume veins
    • 3
    • 5
    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 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
    60–200 mm
    Inflorescence length to width ratio
    3–3.6
    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
    20–55 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
    15–40 mm
    Lemma awn number
    the lemma has one awn on it
    Lemma awn orientation
    the awn of the lemma is straight
    Lemma base hairs
    the lemma is hairless or feels just a tiny bit rough at the base
    Lemma cross-section
    the lemma is flat or rounded 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
    NA
    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
    7–21 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 length
    6–12 mm
    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 above the glumes, so that after the florets fall off, the glumes remain
    • the spikelet breaks off below the glumes
    Spikelet length
    10–20 mm
    Spikelet number per node
    Up to 5
    Spikelet pedicel
    the spikelets do not have pedicels
    Spikelet pedicel length
    0 mm
    Spikelet position
    NA
    Spikelet shape
    • the spikelets are elliptic (widest in the middle, tapering to the ends) in profile
    • the spikelets are oblong (rectangular, but with rounded ends) in profile
    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
    7–21 mm
    Upper glume relative length
    the upper glume is more than one half as long as the lowest lemma
  • 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
    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
    • the leaves have auricles
    Leaf blade cross-section
    • the leaf blade is clearly folded or rolled inwards
    • 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
    15–40 cm
    Leaf blade width
    7–15 mm
    Leaf ligule length
    0.5–1 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
    Orientation of topmost leaf
    • the flag leaf is held outward at more than a 45 degree angle from the stem, or it curves downwards from the horizontal
    • the flag leaf is held upright, or at less than a 45 degree angle out from the stem
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Massachusetts
    • Rhode Island
    Specific habitat
    • forests
    • ridges or ledges
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Hairs at nodes
    the stem nodes are hairless or they have very sparse hairs
    Plant height
    60–140 cm
    Stem node number
    6–9
    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
present
Vermont
absent

Conservation Status

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

Maine
unranked (S-rank: SNR)
Massachusetts
historical (S-rank: SH), #NAME? (code: #NAME?)

var. australis

Rhode Island
historical (S-rank: SH), state historical (code: SH)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Elymus virginicus:
glume awns usually not exceeding 10 mm in length, lemma awns mostly 5-15 mm long, and spikelets appressed to appressed-ascending (vs. E. glabriflorus, with glume awns 10-25 mm long, lemma awns mostly 15-40 mm long, and spikelets spreading-ascending).
Elymus macgregorii:
spikes 9–18 nodes separated by internodes 4–7 mm long and auricles 2-3 mm long (vs. E. glabriflorus, with spikes with 15–30 nodes separated by internodes 3–5 mm long and auricles 0-2 mm long).

Synonyms

  • Elymus virginicus L. var. glabriflorus (Vasey ex Dewey) Bush

Family

Poaceae

Genus

Elymus

Notes on Subspecies and Varieties in New England

Variety australis is known from CT, MA, RI. Variety glabriflorus is known from only CT. Both varieties are of regional conservation concern.

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

3.  Elymus glabriflorus (Vasey ex Dewey) Scribn. & Ball NC

southeastern wild-rye. 3a. Elymus australis Scribn. & Ball; E. virginicus L. var. australis (Scribn. & Ball) A.S. Hitchc.; 3b. Elymus virginicus L. var. glabriflorus (Vasey ex Dewey) Bush • CT, MA, RI. Dry-mesic, deciduous forests, usually occurring on hills ridges, including trap rock, in shallow soils associated with Quercus and/or Carya.

1a.  Glumes and lemmas pubescent 
 … 3a. E. glabriflorus var. australis (Scribn. & Ball) J.J.N. Campb.

1b.  Glumes and lemmas glabrous or minutely scabrous … 3b. E. glabriflorus var. glabriflorus

Variety australis is known from CT, MA, RI. Variety glabriflorus is known from only CT. Both varieties are of regional conservation concern.

3×4. Elymus glabriflorus × Elymus hystrix This extremely rare grass hybrid is currently known within New England 
from a single hill in New Haven County, CT, where it occurs with both parents. It is recognized by the intermediate nature of the glume development, spike width, 
and spikelet orientation.