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Little Ricegrass
(Oryzopsis exigua (Syn= Piptatherum exiguum) )

Little Ricegrass; Photo Copyright 1950 Hitchcock, A.S. (rev A. Chase)
Photo Copyright 1950 Hitchcock, A.S. (rev A. Chase)

Description: The jointed stems of this grass (culms) are densely tufted, stiffly erect, rough to the touch (scabrous), and 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) tall. Leaf sheaths are smooth or somewhat scabrous; appendage at junction of leaf sheath and blade (ligule) is 1/8 inch (2 to 3 mm) long; blades are scabrous and 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) long; culm blades about 3/4 inch (2 cm) shorter. Panicle (branched cluster of flowers) narrow, 1-1/4 to 2-3/8 inches (3 to 6 cm) long, appressed, the lower 3/8 to 3/4 (1 to 2 cm). Spikelets short-stalked, glumes pointed, lemma awn 1/4 inch (5 mm) in length and bent. (Please see glossary below.)

 Identifying Features:

  1. Narrow, short inflorescence.
  2. One floret per spikelet with a very short, bent awn.

Distribution: Lassen and Modoc Counties.  Also Nevada and Oregon. Within public lands administered by the Alturas Field Office on Mt. Dome and by the Eagle Lake Field Office on Observation Peak—only known locations.

 Habitat: Dry open ground or open woods, at moderately high atitudes (6,400 to 8,000 feet). Steep slopes and adjacent talus slopes.

Flowering Period: June - August

Similar Plants: Achnatherum thurberiana, has a taller culm and much larger fruit. Bristle-like appendage at end of leaf (awn) also much longer. Indian ricegrass much different with open cluster of flowers (inflorescence).

Status: BLM Sensitive, California Native Plant Society List 2.3




Glossary of
Plant Terms

Diagram of Plant Parts

Definitions of
Plant Status

Field Office: Alturas, Eagle Lake

Last updated: 08-05-2010