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..
Mostly perennial grasses, with flat or convolute leaf-blades and contracted or open panicles. Spikelets 3-many-flowered, the flowers all perfect, or the upper staminate; rachilla pubescent, extending beyond the flowers. Scales 5-many, the 2 lower empty, keeled, acute, subequal, persistent, generally extending beyond the uppermost flowering one; flowering scales rounded on the back, 2-toothed, deciduous, the awn arising from between the acute or awned teeth, flat and twisted at base, bent; palet hyaline, 2-keeled near the margins, obtuse or 2-toothed. Stamens 3. Styles distinct. Stigmas plumose. Grain free, enclosed in the scale. [Name in honor of Etienne Danthoine, a Marseilles botanist of the last century.]
A genus of about 100 species, widely distributed in warm and temperate regions, chiefly in South Africa. Type species: Avena spicata L.
Spikelets, exclusive of the awns, less than 1/2' long.
Teeth of flowering scales merely acute, not awned; panicle contracted, spike-like.
Teeth of the flowering scales long-awned; panicle commonly open, its branches spreading,
and usually reflexed at flowering time.
Spikelets, exclusive of the awns, exceeding 1/2' long.
Panicle loose and open, green; awns 5" long or more.
Foliage and flowering scales pubescent.
Foliage glabrous; flowering scales pubescent on margins and base only.
Panicle contracted, spike-like, dense, purple-variegated; awns 3"-4" long.
Avena spicata L. Sp. PI. 80. 1753-
Danthonia spicata Beauv.; R. & S. Syst. 2: 690. 1817.
Culms 1°-2 1/2° tall, erect, simple, smooth and glabrous, nearly terete. Sheaths shorter than the internodes, glabrous or often sparingly pubescent below; ligule very short; blades rough, 1" wide or less, usually involute, the lower 4'-6' long, the upper 1'-2' long; inflorescence racemose or paniculate, 1-2' in length, the pedicels and branches erect or ascending; spikelets 5-8-flowered; empty scales 4"-5" long, glabrous; flowering scales broadly oblong, sparingly pubescent with appressed silky hairs, the teeth about 1/2" long, acute or short-pointed, the bent spreading awn closely twisted at the base, loosely so above.