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Yavapai County Native & Naturalized Plants

Imperata brevifolia - California satintail

Synonyms: Imperata hookeri, Imperata arundinacea, Saccharum mexicanum

Other Common Names: satintail

Plant Form:Grass

Family: Poaceae

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  Grass Description -   Glossary of Grass Terminology

Origin: Native    Season: Warm
Habitat Description: In our area, found mostly in rocky canyons near water sources. Can also be found in springs, wet meadows, along streams and in flood plains.
Plant Communities: Riparian
Elevation: Below 6000 feet

General Description

Desc: Erect bunchgrass growing up to 5 feet tall, with hard, scaly rhizomes. Seedheads are long and narrow, with long silky white hairs giving us its common name.
Identification notes: Erect, coarse perennials, scaly rhizomes. Seedheads narrow with silky hairs, distinctly exerted; spikelets in pairs, awnless, surrounded by sikly hairs, subsessile and on one side of the stem; glumes stay on the plant when seeds are mature. Stems leafy.
Grass Type: Perennial bunchgrass  Rhizomes: Y  Stolons: N
Large Dense Clump (> 2 feet): Y  Bushy (highly branched): N
Height with Seedheads: Greater than 36 inches
Seedhead Structure: Branched - contracted  Seedhead Droops: N
Flowering Period: May - Oct

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: Seedhead is white, contracted, 6 to 12 inches long, with silky white hairs dotted with brown anthers and stigmas. Spikelets 2-flowered, without awns.

Vegetative Characteristics

Blade Hairy: N  Blade with White Margin: N  Blade Cross Section: Flat  
Blade Notes: Flat blades 6 to 12 inches long, 1/4 to 3/4 inch wide, with upper blades reducing in size. Top surfaces smooth, bottom surfaces rough and sometimes densely hairy at the base.
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: Ligules 1/16 to 1/8 inch long; rhizomes hard and scaly.

Forage Value: Not available.

  Arizona Cooperative Extension
Yavapai County
840 Rodeo Dr #C
Prescott, AZ 86305
(928) 445-6590
Version 8.0  
Last Updated: Feb 16, 2020  
Content Questions/Comments: Email Jeff Schalau  
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