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..
Generally tall grasses, the leaf-blades usually convolute, rarely flat, the inflorescence paniculate. Spikelets 1-flowered, narrow. Scales 3; the two outer narrow, acute or rarely bearing an.awn, the third rigid, convolute, with a hairy callus at the base, and bearing a more or less bent persistent awn, which is spiral at the base. Palet 2-nerved. Stamens 3, rarely fewer. Styles short, distinct. Stigmas plumose. Grain narrow, free, tightly enclosed in the scale. [Greek, in allusion to the tow-like plumes of some species.]
A genus of about 120 species, distributed throughout the temperate and tropical zones. Besides the following, some 20 others occur in the southern and western parts of North America. Type species: Stipa pennata L.
Outer scales of the spikelet 2"-6" long:
Obtuse or blunt-pointed, 2" in length.
Acute, 4"-6" in length.
Awn less than five times the length of the scale.
Awn more than seven times the length of the scale.
Outer scales of the spikelet 10" long or more.
Panicle exserted from the upper sheath; third scale 7"-12" long, bent.
Culms glabrous, 1°-2° tall, erect, simple, slender, smooth or somewhat scabrous. Sheaths shorter than the internodes; ligule about 1" long, obtuse or truncate; blades 2'-5' long, 1/2"-1" wide, flat, becoming involute-setaceous in drying, scabrous; panicle 2'-5' long, contracted, the branches l'-2' long, erect, naked below; spikelets borne at the ends of the branches; outer scales about 2" long, obtuse or blunt-pointed, glabrous; third scale somewhat shorter, pubescent with long ap-pressed silky hairs, callus obtuse; awn 4"-5" long, contorted.
Shaded places, New Brunswick to northern New York, Ontario, Saskatchewan and northward. July.