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Genus Luzula Family Juncaceae

Description: Perennial grass-like herbs, tufted or rhizomatous. Culms terete.

Leaves basal or occasionally 1 or 2 cauline, flat or channelled; margins moderately to densely white-villous, mostly minutely papillose, sometimes nearly glabrous except for fringe of long white hairs near base of blade; auricles absent. Lowest 1–4 involucral bracts leaf-like.

Flowers bisexual, clustered ± densely, each with 1 papery bract and 2 papery bracteoles. Tepals subequal in length. Stamens 6[–3]. Ovary 1-locular.

Capsule smooth, or minutely papillose near apex, shining; seeds 3, with a white basal, ± fleshy outgrowth (caruncle).


Photo © ANBG

Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 80 species, mainly extra-tropical regions. Australia: 15 species (12 species endemic), all States except N.T.

Some specimens may be infected by a fungus that causes elongation of flowers and darkening of the tepals. The key and descriptions do not cover such individuals.

Text by E. Edgar & K. L. Wilson (1993); edited KL Wilson (July 2016)
Taxon concept:

Taxa not yet included in identification key
Luzula longiflora

 Key to the species 
1Inflorescence of several obviously pedunculate flower clusters or with only shortly pedunculate clusters2
Inflorescence a single ovate or globose head, or an oblong head with a few subsessile lower clusters8
2Anthers 0.7–1.6 mm long3
Anthers 0.2–0.6 mm long
                       Back to 1
6
3Shoots with more or less bulbous base; peduncles to 6 cm long; tepals either pale red-brown with more or less broad creamy to hyaline margins or red-brown to dark brown, without conspicuously paler margins4
Shoots without bulbous base; peduncles to 3 cm long; tepals red-brown to dark brown with a narrow but conspicuous, or broad, hyaline to creamy margin
                       Back to 2
5
4Tepals red-brown to dark brown, without conspicuously paler margins; flowers 2.6–3.5 mm longLuzula meridionalis
Tepals pale red-brown, with more or less broad creamy to hyaline margins; flowers usually 1.6–2.5 mm long
                       Back to 3
Luzula densiflora
5Leaves moderately hairy; mature capsule usually pale yellow-brown (rarely red-brown at apex)Luzula flaccida
Leaves almost glabrous except near base; mature capsule usually dark red-brown
                       Back to 3
Luzula novae-cambriae
6Shoots without bulbous bases; mature capsule usually pale yellow-brown, rarely red-brown near apexLuzula flaccida
Shoots with mostly bulbous bases; mature capsule red-brown or purple-brown throughout or red-brown above
                       Back to 2
7
7Tepals all acuminate; mature capsule red-brown or purple-brown throughout; inflorescence of a central cluster with 2 or 3 smaller lateral clustersLuzula ovata
Outer tepals acuminate, inner acute; mature capsule red-brown above and yellow-brown below, rarely red-brown throughout; inflorescence of more than 3 clusters
                       Back to 6
Luzula densiflora
8Inflorescence red-brown or creamy brown; tepals with conspicuous pale brown or creamy to white membranous margins9
Inflorescence blackish; tepals without conspicuous paler margins
                       Back to 1
14
9Plants long-rhizomatous; inflorescence oblong in outlineLuzula modesta
Plants more or less tufted; inflorescence ovate or circular in outline
                       Back to 8
10
10Leaves more or less channelled; caruncle a tenth to an eighth the length of seed11
Leaves flat; caruncle a third to a quarter the length of seed
                       Back to 9
12
11Leaves 3–5 mm wide; anthers 1.1–1.5 mm longLuzula australasica
Leaves 1–2 mm wide; anthers 0.4–0.6 mm long
                       Back to 10
Luzula alpestris
12Shoots without bulbous bases; mature capsule usually pale yellow-brown (rarely reddish at apex)Luzula flaccida
Shoots with mostly bulbous bases; mature capsule red-brown or purple-brown throughout, or red-brown above
                       Back to 10
13
13Tepals all acuminate; mature capsule red-brown or purple-brown throughoutLuzula ovata
Outer tepals acuminate, inner acute; mature capsule red-brown above and yellow-brown below, rarely red-brown throughout
                       Back to 12
Luzula densiflora
14Slender tufted plants; flowering culms usually more than 10 cm long; leaf apex obtuseLuzula atrata
Dwarf mat-forming plants; flowering culms less than 8 cm long; leaf apex acute
                       Back to 8
Luzula acutifolia

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