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..
Perennial grasses, with usually soft flat leaf-blades and contracted or open panicles. Spikelets r-several-flowered, often secund, the rachilla extended beyond the flowers and usually bearing 2-3 empty club-shaped or hooded scales, convolute around each other. Two lower scales empty, membranous, 3-5-nerved; flowering scales larger, rounded on the back, 7-13-nerved, sometimes bearing an awn, the margins more or less scarious; palets broad, shorter than the scales, two-keeled. Stamens three. Styles distinct. Stigmas plumose. Grain free, enclosed in the scale and palet. [Name used by Theophrastus for Sorghum; said to be in allusion to the sweet culms of some species.]
About 30 species, inhabiting temperate regions. Besides the following, some 15 others occur in the Rocky Mountains and on the Pacific Coast. Type species: Melica ciliata L.
Terminal scales of the spikelet differing in shape from those below, forming a hood-shaped mass which is much shorter than the other scales.
Spikelets 2-flowered, the second empty scale nearly as long as the spikelet, the flowering scales
terminating on the same plane.
Spikelets usually 3-flowered, the second empty scale much shorter than the spikelet, the second
flowering scale terminating beyond the apex of the first.
Terminal scales like the others in shape, forming a convolute but not hood-shaped mass, which equals
or extends beyond the apex of the other scales.
Melica mutica Walt. Fl. Car. 78. 1788.
Melica mutica var. glabra A. Gray, Man. Ed. 5, 626.
Culms 1°-3° tall, erect, usually slender, simple, smooth and glabrous. Sheaths often overlapping, rough; ligule 1"-2" long; blades rough, 4'-9' long, 1"-5" wide; panicle 3 1/2'-10 1/2' in length, narrow, the branches spreading or ascending, 1'-2' long; spikelets about 2-flowered, 3 1/2"-4 1/2" long, nodding, on more or less flexuous pubescent pedicels; empty scales very broad, acutish to obtuse, the first shorter than the second, which is nearly as long as the spikelet or sometimes equals it; flowering scales 3"-4" long generally very obtuse, scabrous.
.In rich soil, Maryland to Wisconsin, south to Florida and Texas. June-July.
Culms 1 1/2°-4° tall, erect, simple, smooth and glabrous. Sheaths shorter than the internodes, the lower often overlapping; ligule 1"-2" long; blades 4'-7' long, 2"-4" wide, rough; panicle 6 1/2'-8 1/2' in length, open, the branches spreading or ascending, the lower 1 1/2'-3' long; spikelets usually numerous, about 3-flowered, 4 1/2"-5 1/2" long, nodding, on slender, more or less flexuous pubescent pedicels; empty basal scales very broad, obtuse or acutish, the first shorter than the second, which is generally much exceeded by the spikelet; flowering scales 3 1/2"-4 1/2" long, acute or obtuse, scabr6us.
Woods and cliffs, Pennsylvania to Nebraska and Texas. Erroneously called Melica diffusa Pursh, in our first edition, that name proving to be a synonym of the preceding species. May-June.
Melica mutica var. parviflora Porter; Porter & Coulter,
1. f. 17. 18. 1885. M. parviflora Scribn. Mem. Torr. Club 5: 50. 1894.
Culms 1 1/2°-2 1/2° tall, erect, simple, smooth and glabrous. Sheaths short, overlapping, more or less rough; ligule 1" long; blades 5'-9'. long, 1"-2" wide, rough; panicle 5'-7' in length, contracted, the branches erect, the lower 1'-2 long; spikelets few, 4-5-flowered, 5"-6 1/2" long, nodding, on somewhat flexuous strongly pubescent pedicels; lower scales obtuse or acutish, the first shorter than the second, which is much exceeded by the spikelet; flowering scales 3 1/2"-4" long, acutish, scabrous.
Cliffs and hillsides, Iowa to Missouri, Colorado, Arizona and Texas.