Elymus glaucus ssp. glaucus Buckl.
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Family: Poaceae
Genus: Elymus
Species Synonyms: Elymus glaucus var. breviaristatus Burtt-Davy
Common Names: blue wildrye
smooth wildrye
Canada: Yukon – British Columbia – southern Saskatchewan – southern Manitoba – Ontario
Saskatchewan: southern Saskatchewan; Cypress Hills – Wood Mountain – Saltcoats
Ecoregion: Cypress Upland, Mixed Grassland, Moist Mixed Grassland, Aspen Parkland, Mid-Boreal Lowland
Saskatchewan: open woods and thickets
Associated Species: bluntleaf sandwort, Canadian white violet, false Solomon’s-seal, nodding brome, northern bedstraw
Provincial Status According
to Harms (2003):
Nature Conservancy Status:
G5 S2
Saskatchewan Species at
Risk Status:
Blue wildrye is vulnerable because it is rare or uncommon in Saskatchewan. No immediate threats have been identified for this species.
Height: 50 – 100 cm
Roots: fibrous; rhizomes short or absent
Stems: tufted, hollow, slender, often with the base lying on the ground
Leaves: blades 6 – 20 cm long, 5 – 10 mm wide, flat, usually bluish, rough-hairy; sheaths rough-hairy; ligule 0.5 - 2 mm long, square, torn; ear-like lobes at the base of the leaf well-developed, 1 – 2.5 mm long, clasping stem
Inflorescence: spikes erect or nodding, 5 – 15 cm long, dense; central axis rough-hairy to hairless
Spikelets: usually 2 per node, 3 – 6-flowered
Florets: glumes 7 – 14 mm long, 1 – 4 mm wide, linear, apex pointed or awned, margin membranous; lemmas 8 – 13 m long, hairless or rough-hairy, awn straight; paleas nearly equal to lemmas
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.