Common Name: Phalaris, canary grasses
Description: Tufted or rhizomatous annuals or perennials.
Leaves with ligule membranous, truncate; blade rolled in bud, flat.
Inflorescence a stiff, dense, ovoid to cylindrical, sometimes interrupted, panicle.
Spikelets shortly pedicellate, solitary or in clusters, laterally compressed, rachilla disarticulating above the glumes; florets 2 or 3, the lower 1 or 2 sterile (or rarely male), and the uppermost bisexual. Glumes equal, strongly keeled, often winged on the keel, longer than the lemmas, 3–5-nerved with the nerves often green and conspicuous. Sterile lemmas membranous, often reduced, 1 sometimes absent. Fertile lemmas unawned, acute, hairy or glabrous, often shining. Palea a little shorter but similar to the lemma.
Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 20 species, chiefly Europe, with 1 species in America. Australia: 9 species (naturalized), all States except N.T.
One pasture species, Phalaris aquatica, is widespread in eastern temperate areas. Key after Vickery (1975).
Text by S. W. L. Jacobs & S. M. Hastings
| ||Key to the species|| |
|1||Spikelets in groups of 5–7, with male or sterile spikelets and sometimes sterile branches surrounding 1 or more spikelets with bisexual florets, the group falling together at maturity; fertile lemma glabrous||2|
|Spikelets all alike (reduced spikelets sometimes found at the base of the panicle) each with a bisexual floret, the glumes persistent on each pedicel at maturity; fertile lemma pubescent||3|
|2||Perennials with swollen stem bases; spikelet groups usually with more than 1 fertile spikelet; wing on glumes with several small teeth at the apex; pedicels glabrous||Phalaris coerulescens|
|Annuals without swollen stem bases; spikelet groups with 1 fertile spikelet surrounded by reduced spikelets or club-shaped sterile branches; wing on glumes with 1 prominent tooth near the apex; pedicels hairy|
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|3||Sterile lemmas 2, equal or subequal and well developed||4|
|Only 1 sterile lemma well-developed, if 2 present then these very unequal|
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|4||Sterile lemmas more than 50% as long as the fertile floret, rather broad, not subulate; glumes with a broad, entire wing widest in the upper 30%, tapering abruptly to the apex||Phalaris canariensis|
|Sterile lemmas narrow, subulate, usually less than 50% as long as the fertile lemma; wing on glumes narrower|
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|5||Perennials with long rhizomes; panicle often rather loose, interrupted or lobed; glumes acute or acuminate, usually wingless; sterile lemmas uniformly hairy above the scale-like bases||Phalaris arundinacea|
|Annual without rhizomes; panicle dense, cylindrical; glumes obtuse or abruptly acute, keel narrowly winged; sterile lemmas glabrous above basal hairs|
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|6||Perennial with stem bases often tuberous, forming dense clumps; glumes winged in the upper 50–70%, wing margins entire, tapering more gradually towards the base than the apex; lower sterile lemma absent or reduced to a scale-like base||Phalaris aquatica|
|Annual without tuberous stem bases and not forming dense clumps; wing on glumes widest c. 30% below apex, usually erose or finely toothed, tapering equally towards both base and apex; lowest lemma usually absent|
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