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Genus Sporobolus Family Poaceae

Description: Perennials or annuals, tufted or creeping.

Ligule usually a rim of short hairs; blade rolled in bud, flat or convolute, margins often ciliate.

Inflorescence a spike-like panicle or open, the branches sometimes whorled. Spikelets pedicellate, glabrous, often dark-coloured, florets 1, bisexual; rachis disarticulating above the glumes. Glumes usually unequal, narrow, acuminate, 1-nerved. Lemma as long as or longer than the glumes, soft, 1–3-nerved, awnless; palea equal to or shorter than the lemma, 2-nerved, notched or minutely bilobed, sometimes splitting between nerves. Mature grain with a loose pericarp that becomes sticky when wet.

Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 150 species, Africa, Asia, Malesia, Pacific islands. Australia: c. 19 species (c. 17 species native, 2 species naturalized), all States.

Derivation: from the Greek words for 'seed' and 'throwing', referring to the shedding of the seed from lemma, palea and pericarp. Some species are useful in pasture, others have become weeds.

Text by Jacobs, S.W.L., Whalley, R.D.B. & Wheeler, D.J.B.
Taxon concept: Grasses of New South Wales, Fourth Edition (2008).

Taxa not yet included in identification key
Sporobolus coromandelianus,    Sporobolus pulchellus

 Key to the species 
1Lowest node of inflorescence with branches (usually 3–several) in a whorl2
Lowest node of inflorescence with only 1 or 2 branches (not whorled)4
2Panicle much branched and open; spikelets all distinctly pedicellate, pedicels and branches spreadingSporobolus caroli
Panicle appearing to have fewer branches as both spikelets and branches are appressed to the axis; spikelets, many of which are sessile or subsessile, borne in small false spikes (spicate branches)
                       Back to 1
3Panicle at least twice as long as the lowermost branches; each branch with a single, dense false spike, lower 30–50% naked; upper glume distinctly shorter than the spikeletSporobolus actinocladus
Panicle up to about twice as long as the lowermost branches; branches with several false spikes; upper glume about as long as the spikelet
                       Back to 2
Sporobolus contiguus
4Upper glumes subequal or equal to the spikelet; inflorescence dense and spike-like; stoloniferous and/or rhizomatous perennials5
Upper glume 25–75% the length of the spikelet; inflorescence open or spike-like; plants usually tufted
                       Back to 1
5Creeping inland plants with stolons but not rhizomes; glabrous, with geniculate culms and leaf sheaths shorter than the internodes; blades alternate and distant; glumes usually shorter than the spikelet; spikelets 1.5–2 mm longSporobolus mitchellii
Rhizomatous and stoloniferous coastal perennials; leaves often hairy with sheaths exceeding the internodes of non-flowering culms; leaf blade tending to be arranged in pairs; glumes slightly shorter than to subequal to spikelet; spikelets 2–4 mm long
                       Back to 4
Sporobolus virginicus
6Panicle always narrow continuous or interrupted; branches remaining close to the axis7
Panicle branches spreading and diverging from the axis at maturity (panicle may be narrow before flowering)
                       Back to 4
7Inflorescence very dense; if interrupted, primary axis only visible in lowest 30%; spikelets 2–2.5 mm long8
Inflorescence not as dense; interrupted for most of its length (axis visible); spikelets 2 mm long or less
                       Back to 6
8Inflorescence branches grouped in clustersSporobolus disjunctus
Inflorescence branches mostly solitary, never grouped in clusters
                       Back to 7
9Mature grain held in the spikelet before exsertion such that it appears to be almost as long (80–90%) as the lemma; lower glume c. 75% the length of the upper glume (not recorded from N.S.W.)Sporobolus indicus
Mature grain held in the spikelet before exsertion such that it appears to be slightly >50% as long as the lemma; lower glume to 50% the length of the upper glume
                       Back to 8
10Spikelets 2–2.5 mm long; inflorescence branches usually remaining appressedSporobolus africanus
Spikelets 1.6–2 mm long; at least lower inflorescence branches often divergent at maturity
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Sporobolus fertilis
11Panicle with short, stiff, appressed branches, axis visible for most of panicle lengthSporobolus creber
Panicle with longer branches that tend to diverge from the axis in the lower 50% of the panicle, but conceal most of the axis in the upper half of the inflorescence
                       Back to 7
Sporobolus elongatus
12Inflorescence branches free of spikelets for some distance from the base13
Inflorescence branches with spikelets distributed more or less evenly all along; stamens 2–3
                       Back to 6
13Stamens always 3; spikelets 2 mm longSporobolus laxus
Stamens 2 or rarely 3; spikelets 1.2–1.6 mm long
                       Back to 12
Sporobolus diander
14Robust plants often >1.5 m tall; inflorescence branches stiff and spreading15
Plants mostly <1 m tall; inflorescence branches either lax and spreading or closely appressed
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15Upper glume acute, 30–50% the length of the spikelet; leaf blades to 7 mm wide; palea 2-lobed; grain 0.8–1 mm longSporobolus pyramidalis
Upper glume usually >50% spikelet length; leaf blades to 4 mm wide; palea entire; grain 0.7–0.8 mm long
                       Back to 14
Sporobolus natalensis
16Spikelets 1.5–1.8 mm long; anthers 3; inflorescence usually contractedSporobolus blakei
Spikelets to 2 mm long; anthers usually 2; inflorescence usually open
                       Back to 14
Sporobolus sessilis

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