Elymus elymoides ssp. elymoides (Raf.) Swezey
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Family: Poaceae
Genus: Elymus
Species Synonyms: Elymus sitanion J.A. Schultes
Sitanion elymoides Raf.
Sitanion hystrix (Nutt.) J.G. Sm
Common Names: squirreltail
western bottlebrush grass
bottlebrush squirreltail
Canada: southern British Columbia – southwestern Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan: southwestern Saskatchewan; Empress – Val Marie
Ecoregion: Mixed Grassland, Cypress Upland
Saskatchewan: dry, eroded, clay banks and benches
Associated Species: longleaf wormwood, needle-and-thread grass, tufted fleabane
Provincial Status According
to Harms (2003):
Nature Conservancy Status:
G5 S2
Saskatchewan Species at
Risk Status:
Squirreltail is threatened because of rarity in Saskatchewan. It is regionally restricted to one general region of the province and is almost always locally sparse. Possible threats have been identified for this species.
Height: 10 – 50
Roots: fibrous
Stems: tufted, hollow, erect or spreading, smooth
Leaves: blades flat to rolled, 1 – 4 mm wide, ridged above, upper surface rough hairy, lower surface hairless to short hairy; sheaths hairless to hairy, upper often inflated; ligule membranous, 0.1 – 0.5 mm long, tip square; ear-like lobes at the base of the leaf present
Inflorescence: spikes 2 – 15 cm long (including awns), green or purplish; spikelets 2 per node, on alternating sides at each node; central axis separating at maturity
Spikelets: 2 – 3-flowered
Florets: glumes triangular, very narrow, 1 – 2-nerved; glume awn 5 – 9 cm long, rough-hairy, divergent at maturity; lemma rough-hairy to short-hairy, 5-nerved, awned from the tip; lemma awns 1 – 3, widely spreading rough-hairy; palea nearly equal to the lemma
Fruits: grain
1 Spikelets 2 or 3 at each node or central axis, 1 – 6-flowered; lemmas obscurely 5-nerved
1 Spikelets solitary at each node of central axis, each spikelet with at least 2 florets; lemmas 5 – 7-nerved
2 Glumes, if present, bristle-like, divided to base into 2 divergent awns; central axis of spike readily separating; plants mostly 10 – 50 cm tall
E. elymoides ssp. elymoides
2 Glumes bristle-like or not; central axis of spike not readily separating; plants mostly taller than 50 cm
3 Glume margins membranous, not nerved; lemmas hairless to rough hairy
E. glaucus ssp. glaucus
3 Glume margins thickened, hard, and nerved; lemmas densely hairy
4 Glumes bristle-like, reduced or absent, usually < 6 mm long (excluding awn) and 0.5 mm wide
E. diversiglumis
4 Glumes linear, usually at least 1 cm long (excluding awn) and 1 – 2 mm wide
5 Glumes shorter than lemma body; lemma awns divergent at maturity; base of glume flattened
5 Glumes equal to or longer than lemma body; lemma awns straight at maturity; base of glume rounded or bowed
6 Leaves firm, hairless or rough hairy above; spikes arching; palea to 1.1 cm long
E. canadensis var. canadensis
6 Leaves thin, long hairy above; spike pendulous; palea to 1.5 cm long
E. canadensis var. wiegandii
7 Glumes and lemmas long-awned (to 1.5 cm)
E. virginicus var. virginicus
7 Glumes and lemmas sharp-tipped to short-awned (< 2 mm)
E. virginicus var. submuticus
8 Rhizomes short or absent; florets separating above the glumes; anthers 1.5 – 2 mm long
8 Rhizomes long and creeping; florets separating below the glumes; anthers 3 – 7 mm long
9 Awns equal to or longer than lemma
E. trachycaulus ssp. subsecundus
9 Awns absent or much shorter than lemma
E. trachycaulus ssp. trachycaulus
10 Leaves flat, 4 – 8 mm wide, green; lemmas hairless or nearly so
E. repens
10 Leaves rolled, 1 – 3 mm wide, bluish; lemmas usually hairy
11 Glumes 2 – 3-nerved; lemmas long-awned
E. albicans
11 Glumes 3 – 5-nerved; lemmas awnless
12 Spikes to 25 cm long, central axis hairy below spikelets; glumes conspicuously 5-nerved; lemmas densely hairy
E. lanceolatus ssp. psammophilus
12 Spikes to 15 cm long, central axis hairless below spikelets; glumes 3-nerved, only the midvein conspicuous; lemmas hairless or hairy
13 Lemmas hairless or rough-hairy
E. lanceolatus ssp. lanceolatus var. riparium
13 Lemmas long-hairy
E. lanceolatus ssp. lanceolatus var. lanceolatus
*Elymus hybrids occur naturally in Saskatchewan. E. X maltei (E. canadensis x E. virginicus) and E. X pseudorepens (E. trachycaulus x E. lanceolatus) are examples.