catchfly grass
Leersia lenticularis

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Catchfly grass can be found in river bottoms and moist wooded habitats throughout the eastern United States. In Iowa it is rare and found almost exclusively along the eastern border of the state in bottomlands along the Mississippi River and its major tributaries. It flowers from August to September. The most distinctive feature is the almost round spikelets, as seen in side view.

Etymology: Leersia is named for Johann Daniel Leers (1727-1774), a German botanist and pharmacist; from the Latin, lenticularis = lens-shaped, that is, resembling a double convex lens, referring to the shape of the spikelets.


Plants with moderately long, scaly rhizomes. Culms 50-90 cm, usually ascending, simple or branched; nodes minutely rough with backward or downward directed firm, stiff hairs. Leaves with the sheaths smooth to rough near the top; ligules 1-2 mm long; blades 10-30 cm long, 8-17 mm wide, spreading to somewhat ascending, usually rough along the margins, smooth to short-hairy above, smooth to roughened below. Flowering heads 11-27 cm long, usually emerging completely from the sheath below; branches 9-14 cm long, spreading, usually 1 per node, the lower branches naked on the lower 1/3. Spikelets 4.3-5.1 mm long, 3-3.7 mm wide, broadly elliptic to rounded, strongly overlapping, more or less arranged on one side only. Lemmas and paleas coarsely ciliate on their keels, variously pubescent on the margins and body; anthers 2. Chromosome number n = 24.


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