Plant Image
Plant - fall
Iron King Tr
Sue Smith
Yavapai County Native & Naturalized Plants

Digitaria californica - Arizona cottontop

Synonyms: Trichachne californica

Other Common Names: California cottontop

Plant Form:Grass

Family: Poaceae

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Iron King Tr Sue Smith
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Iron King Tr Sue Smith
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Ligule and hairs

Iron King Tr Sue Smith
  Grass Description -   Glossary of Grass Terminology

Origin: Native    Season: Warm
Habitat Description: Rocky ridges, margins of fields, plains and open ground.
Plant Communities: Desert Scrub, Interior Chaparral, Semidesert Grasslands, Pinyon Juniper Woodland, Disturbed Areas
Elevation: 1000 - 6000 feet

General Description

Desc: Tall, 1 to 4 feet, with rather hard round stems sometimes bent abruptly, like a knee. Seedhead looks cottony when mature, before seeds fall.
Identification notes: Tufted perennial stems 16 to 39 inches tall erect from a swollen, knotty base; basal sheaths long soft hairs; collar hairy; contracted, branched seedhead; second glume narrow and densely hairy with soft white silky hairs tinged with purple.
Grass Type: Perennial bunchgrass  Rhizomes: N  Stolons: N
Large Dense Clump (> 2 feet): N  Bushy (highly branched): N
Height with Seedheads: 24 to 36 inches
Seedhead Structure: Branched - contracted  Seedhead Droops: N
Flowering Period: Jul - Nov

Flower Characteristics

Number of Flowers per Spikelet: Multi-flowered  Spikelets One-sided: N
Awns: Absent   Three Awns: N  Awns Bent: N

Flower and Seedhead Notes: Dense slender seedheads 2 to 6 inches long with spikelets which have silky, long, whitish or purplish tinged hairs.

Vegetative Characteristics

Blade Hairy: Y  Blade with White Margin: Y  Blade Cross Section: Flat or folded  
Blade Notes: Blades 3/4 to 4-3/4 inches long, 1/16 to 1/2 inch wide, do not clasp the stem firmly but pull away, exposing a smooth purple to green internode.
Sheath Hairy: Y  Tuft of Hairs Top of Sheath or Collar: Y  Ligules: Membranous
Auricles (Ear-like lobes at base of blades): N
Vegetative Notes: Basal sheaths densely hairy with long soft hairs or densely covered wth matted and tangled hairs; upper sheaths without hairs. Ligules 1/16 to 1/4 inch, appearing torn at the edge or irregularly cleft.

Forage Value: Good.

  Arizona Cooperative Extension
Yavapai County
840 Rodeo Dr #C
Prescott, AZ 86305
(928) 445-6590
Version 8.0  
Last Updated: Nov 21, 2021
Content Questions/Comments: Email Mary Barnes  
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