Culms 60-120 cm tall, rarely more than 2 mm thick, erect, geniculate
at the base, often branched at maturity, not glaucous below the nodes; nodes
hirsute, hairs 3-4 mm, mostly erect to ascending, tan or off-white. Leaves
cauline; ligules 1-2 mm, often erose; blades 20-30 cm long, 2-7
mm wide, not glaucous, glabrous or sparingly pilose near the throat. Panicles
5-14(20) cm on the larger shoots, oblong to somewhat fan-shaped, silvery-white;
rachises 5-10 cm, straight, exserted or partially included in the sheath,
with numerous branches; branches 4-9 cm, erect, with several rames; rame
internodes with a membranous groove wider than the margins, margins densely
pilose, longest hairs 3-7 mm, concentrated distally. Sessile spikelets
4.5-7.3 mm; lower glumes short pilose, with or without a dorsal pit;
awns 20-35 mm; anthers 0.5-1 mm, often remaining within the spikelet.
Pedicellate spikelets 3-4 mm, narrowly lanceolate, sterile. 2n
Bothriochloa barbinodis is a common species, at 500-1200 m, along roadsides,
drainage ways, and gravelly slopes in desert grasslands, from the southwestern
United States through Mexico and Central America to Bolivia and Argentina, and
has been found in the Hawaiian Islands. Plants with a pit on the back of their
lower glumes occur sporadically; they do not differ in any other respect from
those without pits. The species is sometimes used as an ornamental. It is tolerant
of coastal conditions and will grow as far north as Vancouver, British Columbia.
Bothriochloa barbinodis has been confused with three other species in the Flora region. It
differs from B. wrightii in not
having glaucous foliage, and in having oblong to merely somewhat fan-shaped
panicles with pedicellate spikelets that are definitely shorter than the sessile
spikelets; from B. alta in having shorter
culms, panicles, and nodal hairs; and from B.
springfieldii in having taller culms, wider leaves, shorter nodal hairs,
and more, less hairy panicles branches.
FNA 2007, Gould 1980
Common Name: cane bluestem Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Graminoid General: Robust tufted perennial grass, 60-120 cm tall, geniculate at base and erect above, usually villous with dense tufts of long, white hairs at nodes, at ligules and on inflorescences. Vegetative: Ligules 1-2 mm, often irregularly toothed; blades 20-30 cm long, 2-7 mm wide, drying reddish-brown, the bases semi-persistent, flat. Inflorescence: Panicles on the larger shoots, cottony and white or silvery, 7-14 cm, oblong to somewhat fan-shaped with numerous branches clustered at the top of the tall, nearly naked stems and emerging from a sheath; rachis joints and pedicels with hairs to 6-8 mm; spikelets in pairs, the sessile spikelet with 2 florets and the pedicillate spikelet sterile; glumes equal but different shapes, lower glume broad, green and flat to concave on the back, upper glume markedly humpbacked or V-shaped with a blunt keel. Upper lemma of sessile spikelet tipped with a twisted, geniculate awn 20-35 mm. Ecology: Found in open range lands, on dry, rocky or sandy slopes and plains, and graded roadsides from 1,000-6,000 ft (305-1829 m); flowers August-September. Distribution: Widespread throughout much of the southern half of the US; extends south through Mex. and Central Amer, to Argentina. Notes: Large perennial bunchgrass; immediately obvious is the tuft of hairy spikelets of the inflorescence which emerge from leaf sheaths. The dense tuft of hairs at the nodes is also diagnostic. Distinguished from other Bothriochloa in the region by having pedicillate spikelets much shorter than sessile spikelets and awns 20-35 mm. This plant responds very well to fire and is a prolific seed producer. Also a valuable forage species. The fresh seeds smell like blueberries when crushed or rubbed to release the scent. Ethnobotany: Unknown; other species in this genus have medicinal uses. Etymology: Botriochloa is from the Greek bothros, a pit or hole, and chloe or chloa, grass. Synonyms: Andropogon barbinodis, A. perforatus, Bothriochloa barbinodis var. palmeri, B. barbinodis var. perforata, B. palmeri Editor: SBuckley 2010, FSCoburn 2014, AHazelton 2015