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Genus Eragrostis Family Poaceae
Common Name: Lovegrasses

Description: Annuals or perennials, usually tufted but of various habit.

Leaves with ligule a rim of minute hairs or rarely membranous; blade flat, narrow, convolute, rolled in the bud, rarely absent.

Inflorescence paniculate, open or contracted, or reduced to a raceme.

Spikelets solitary, pedicellate; 3–many bisexual florets, usually closely imbricate; rachilla disarticulating above the glumes and between the lemmas, or persistent with the lemmas deciduous and the paleas subpersistent. Glumes unequal, acute or acuminate, membranous, 1-nerved or the upper rarely 3-nerved, keeled. Lemmas acute or acuminate, 3-nerved with the lateral nerves faint, keeled or rounded on the back, overlapping, margins rarely ciliate. Palea equal to the lemma, 2-keeled, keel sometimes ciliate.


Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 300 species, cosmopolitan, chiefly tropical & subtropical regions. Australia: c. 66 species (c. 52 species native, 14 species naturalized), all States.

Eragrostis tef (Zucc.)Trotter commonly known as 'Tef Millet' and Eragrostis tephrosanthes Schult. may have become naturalised locally in NSW.

Text by S. W. L. Jacobs & K. L. McClay
Taxon concept:

Taxa not yet included in identification key
Eragrostis exigua,    Eragrostis tef,    Eragrostis tenellula,    Eragrostis tephrosanthes

 Key to the species 
1Perennials with swollen stem bases covered by numerous hairy or glabrous cataphylls, often also with short to long, thick, knotty rhizomes2
Perennials or annuals, without conspicuously swollen stems or bases, rhizomes usually absent, never thick and knotty9
2Coarse almost shrubby perennials up to or more than 2 m tall, branching along the stem and with few foliage leaves; lateral nerves of lemma subequal to midvein, all 3 fading halfway along the lemmaEragrostis australasica
Plants less than 1 m high, rarely branching from upper nodes and with numerous foliage leaves; lateral nerves of lemma shorter than the midvein
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3
3Lemmas hairy along the lower marginsEragrostis laniflora
Lemmas glabrous
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4
4Leaves flat, even when dry, almost distichous (in 2 rows)Eragrostis xerophila
Leaves rarely flat, normally rolled, always rolled when dry
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5
5Plants with thick woolly swollen bases, infloresence sparsely branched often more or less spike-like, the spikelets spreading or curving away from the axis at maturity6
Plants with swollen bases but these glabrous or hairy, not covered by thick woolly hairs; inflorescence often branched, rarely reduced and spike-like but then with some florets obviously aborted; spikelets rarely spreading or curving away from the axis at maturity
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8
6Lemmas 1–1.5 mm longEragrostis desertorum
Lemmas 1.7–3 mm long
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7
7Lemmas 2–3 mm long; palea keeled for almost whole length; floret usually falling with fragile rachilla jointEragrostis eriopoda
7lemmas 1.7–2 mm long; palea keels shorter tahn body of palea; rachilla and palea persistentEragrostis lanicaulis
8Mature spikelets c. 1 mm wide, usually with more than 20 florets; lemmas less than 2 mm longEragrostis falcata
Mature spikelets more than 1.5 mm wide, usually with less than 20 florets; lemmas c. 2 mm long
                       Back to 5
Eragrostis setifolia
9Inflorescence an open panicle, to twice as long as broad or 8 cm or more wide10
Inflorescence more or less compact, usually more than twice as long as broad (sometimes reduced by environmental conditions) or less than 6 cm wide
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30
10Annuals (mature plants pull up easily)11
Perennials (mature plants cannot be pulled up easily)
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17
11Plants usually more than 50 cm high, spikelets with 10–20 florets, 1 mm wide; lemmas 1.5 mm long; panicle 20–30 cm long, more or less droopingEragrostis parviflora
Plants usually less than 50 cm high or spikelets more than 1 mm wide; lemmas more than 1.5 mm long and inflorescence less than 20 cm long
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12
12Leaves with marginal glands and/or inflorescence with a brown ring below the lower nodes (= 'ring of glands')13
Leaves without marginal glands; inflorescences without glands; glands sometimes present elsewhere on the sheath or blade
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16
13Spikelets 2–4 mm wide, lemmas usually more than 2 mm longEragrostis cilianensis
Spikelets 1–2 mm wide, if c. 2 mm wide then the lemmas 2 mm long or less
                       Back to 12
14
14Palea keels shorter than body of the paleaEragrostis pilosa
Palea keels as long as the body of the lemma
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15
15Lemmas scabrousEragrostis barrelieri
Lemmas smooth
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Eragrostis minor
16Spikelets < 1.5 mm wideEragrostis pilosa
Spikelets > 1.5 mm wide
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Eragrostis mexicana
17Axils of inflorescence branches with fine long hairs18
Inflorescence with axils of secondary and subsequent branches glabrous, axils of primary barnches may have hairs
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20
18Axils of pedicels also hairyEragrostis tenuifolia
Hairs restricted to axils of main inflorescence branches
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19
19Inflorescence large and robust; lemma >2 mm long; grain obtuseEragrostis curvula
Inflorescence open and delicate; lemmas <2 mm long; grain truncate
                       Back to 18
Eragrostis lugens
20Spikelets with 3–5 florets, pedicels 2–6 times the length of the spikeletEragrostis trachycarpa
Spikelets with more than 5 florets or with relatively shorter pedicels
                       Back to 17
21
21Lemmas >2 mm long22
Lemmas <2 mm long
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24
22Grain twice as long as broadEragrostis curvula
Grain sub-globose
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23
23Grain truncate, spikelets leaden-green, flattened, 1.5 mm or wideEragrostis alveiformis
Grain ovoid, spikelets purple or straw-coloured, slightly flattened, c. 1 mm wide
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Eragrostis falcata
24Axils of primary branches pilosa with hairs 1–3 mm longEragrostis lugens
Axils of primary branches glabrous or with hairs <1 mm long
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25
25Spikelets terete, narrow, >4 mm long; lateral nerves of lemma closer to the margin than the midveinEragrostis lacunaria
Spikelets flattened; lateral nerves of lemma usually half way between margins and midvein
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26
26Main inflorescence branches above the lowest whorl mostly opposite27
Main inflorescence branches above the lowest whorl mostly alternate
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28
27Grain twice as long as broad, lemma 1.75–2 mm longEragrostis leptocarpa
Grain sub-globose, lemma 1.5 mm long
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Eragrostis parviflora
28Grain truncate, spikelets leaden-green, lemmas 1.5–1.75 mm long, opaqueEragrostis leptostachya
Grain obtuse, lemmas 1–2 mm long
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29
29Lemmas <1.5 mm long, translucentEragrostis microcarpa
Lemmas >1.5 mm long, opaque, leaden-green or rarely straw-coloured
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Eragrostis benthamii
30Annuals (plants pull up easily)31
Perennials (plants hard to pull up)
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35
31Spikelets <5 mm long and >1 mm wide with <5 florets; delicate annualEragrostis tenuella
Spikelets >5 mm long or >1 mm wide, usually with >5 florets
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32
32Leaves with marginal glands and/or inflorescence with a brown ring below the nodes (='ring of glands')33
Leaf margins and inflorescence without glands
                       Back to 31
34
33Spikelets 2–4 mm wide; lemmas usually >2 mm longEragrostis cilianensis
Spikelets 1.5–2 mm wide; lemmas usually <2 mm long
                       Back to 32
Eragrostis barrelieri
34Spikelets flattened, greater than or equal to 3 mm wide; palea with obvious hairs 0.5 mm long on the keelsEragrostis basedowii
Spikelets sub-terete, < 2 mm wide; palea without obvious hairs
                       Back to 32
Eragrostis dielsii
35Spikelets <2 mm wide36
Spikelets >2 mm wide
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43
36Spikelets less than or equal to 1 mm with 3 floretsEragrostis kennedyae
Spikelets >2 mm long
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37
37Spikelets sub-terete or cylindrical38
Spikelets distinctly flattened
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39
38Spikelets 1.2–2.5 mm wide, lemmas 1.75 mm long, grain 0.6–0.7 mm long; plant more or less scabrousEragrostis dielsii
Spikelets 1–1.2 mm wide, lemmas less than 1.75 mm long, grain slightly less than 0.6 mm long; plant smooth
                       Back to 37
Eragrostis pergracilis
39Grain truncate; inflorescence more or less openEragrostis leptostachya
Grain obtuse; inflorescence narrow, branches mostly erect
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40
40Lemma <1.4 mm long; usually <8 florets/spikeletsEragrostis trichophora
40Lemma greater than or equal to 1.4 mm long; usually >9 spikelets/floret41
41Rachilla straightEragrostis speciosa
Rachilla flexuose or zigzag
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42
42Palea c. 50% the length of the lemma; palea flaps distinctly narrower than the body of the palea; caryopsis c. 0.5 mm longEragrostis sterilis
Palea > 50 % the length of the lemma; palea flaps wider thant the body of the palea; capyopsis 0.9–1 mm long
                       Back to 41
Eragrostis megalosperma
43Spikelets 3–8 mm long in dense sessile or sub-sessile clusters along the axis of an interrupted spike-like panicleEragrostis elongata
Spikelets scattered on short panicle branches, the lower branches at least as long as the spikelets or in pedunculate (stalked) clusters
                       Back to 35
44
44Branches of the panicle shortly pubsecent on upper surfaces for several millimetres from their axilsEragrostis pubescens
Branches of the panicle glabrous or hispid, not pubsecent
                       Back to 43
45
45Rachilla persistent, lemmas falling fastEragrostis spartinoides
Florets falling as a unit, rachilla persistent
                       Back to 44
46
46Palea 50% the lenght of the lemma47
Palea 75% or more the length of the lemma
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48
47Rachilla straightEragrostis speciosa
Rachilla flexuose or zig-zag
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Eragrostis sterilis
48Upper glume 2.5–3 mm long; spikelets in subsessile clusters; lower inflorescence branches 1–3 times as long as the spikeletsEragrostis interrupta
Upper glume 1.5–2 mm long; spikelets borne on lateral branches, lower lateral branches 2-several times as long as the spikelets
                       Back to 46
49
49Lemmas 1.5–2 mm long, the paleas with the 2 keels narrowing and almost meeting at the apex, pedicels of spikelets very shortEragrostis brownii
Lemmas c. 2.5 mm long, the paleas with a broad membranous connection at the apex between the 2 keels
                       Back to 48
Eragrostis sororia

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