This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol1", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Annual or perennial grasses, with flat or convolute leaf-blades and open or rarely contracted panicles. Spikelets large, flattened, tumid, many-flowered, nodding, the flowers perfect. Scales thin-membranous, strongly concave, the 2 lower empty, 3-5-nerved, somewhat unequal; flowering scales imbricated, broader than the empty ones, 5-many-nerved; uppermost scales often empty; palets much shorter than the scales, hyaline, 2-keeled or 2-nerved. Stamens 3. Styles distinct. Stigmas plumose. Grain usually free, enclosed in the scale and palet. [Greek name for some grain, perhaps rye.]
About 12 species, natives of the Old World and temperate South America. Type species: Briza minor L.
Perennial; ligule 1/2" long or less, truncate; spikelets 5-12-flowered, 2"-2 1/2" long.
Annual; ligule 1" long or more, acute; spikelets 3-6 flowered, 1"- 1 1 /2" long.
Briza media L. Sp. PI. 70. 1753.
Smooth and glabrous, culms 6'-2° tall, erect, from a perennial root, simple. Sheaths shorter than the internodes; ligule \" long or less, truncate; blades 1'-3' long, 1"-3" wide; panicle 1 1/2'-5' in length, the capillary branches spreading or as-sending, 1'-2 1/2' long; spikelets 2"-2 1/2" long, orbicular to deltoid-ovate, 5-12-flowered; scales scarious-margined, the lower ones about 1" long; flowering scales \"-\\" long, broader than the lower ones, widely spreading.
In fields and waste places, Ontario to Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Naturalized from Europe. Native also of Asia. Maidenhair, Shakers, Cow-quake, Lady's-hair, Wag-wanton. Pearl-, Fairy-, Dodder-Dithering- or Jockey-grass. June-July.
Briza minor L. Sp. PI. 70. 1753.
Smooth and glabrous, culms 4-15' tall, erect from an annual root, simple. Sheaths shorter than the internodes; ligule 1"-3" long, acute; blades 1'-5' long, 1 "-4" wide, sometimes scabrous; panicle 2-5' in length, open, the capillary branches spreading or ascending, 1-2 1/2 long; spikelets 3-6-flowered, 1"-1 1/2" long, about 2" broad, truncate at the base; scales scarious-margined, the lower ones about 1" long; flowering scales much broader and deeply saccate, about 2" long.
In ballast and waste places, New Jersey to Virginia; common in California, and widely distributed in tropical America. Adventive or naturalized from Europe. June-July.