Tufted perennial 1-5(-7) dm, sometimes stoloniferous in late season; lvs flat, 1-2 mm wide; ligules 1-3 mm; infl 3-20 cm, its branches usually smooth or nearly so (as also the pedicels), the upper erect, the lower often spreading or descending, usually bearing spikelets mainly or only beyond the middle; spikelets 3-6-fld; glumes ovate, the first 1-2.7 mm, the second 1.5-4 mm; lemmas ovate to obovate, obscurely veined, glabrous or short-pilose at base, acute to obtuse, the distal margins entire or erose or with a few scattered scabrules; first lemma 2.4-4.2 mm; anthers 0.7-1.5 mm; 2n=42, 56. Salt-marshes and gravelly beaches along the coast; Conn. to Lab. and Hudson's Bay; Calif. to Aleut. Isl. (P. paupercula) The measurements above apply to the usual form of the sp. A taller, perhaps not persistent form from P.E.I., with diffuse infl and much elongate glumes and lemmas (to 10 mm) has been called P. paupercula var. longiglumis Fernald & Weatherby. It may be teratological.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.