Culms 20-50 cm, erect to ascending, often geniculate. Ligules 1.5-3 mm, commonly acute to acuminate, with narrow triangular lobes 1.5-3(4) mm long extending from the sides of the sheaths; blades 4-8 cm long, 1-1.5 mm wide, acute or mucronate, midribs sometimes extending up to 3 mm as a short bristle. Similar to Lycurus setosus in inflorescence and spikelet characters, except the upper glumes occasionally with a second shorter, more delicate awn. 2n = 40, ca. 40.
Lycurus phleoides grows on rocky hills and open slopes, at elevations of 670-2600 m. It grows from the southwestern United States to southern Mexico, and in northern South America. It flowers from July-October.
FNA 2007, Peterson et al. 2010
Common Name: common wolfstail Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Graminoid General: Tufted perennial grass; stems 20-50 cm, erect to ascending, often geniculate. Vegetative: Ligules 1.5-3 mm, commonly acute to acuminate, with narrow triangular lobes 1.5-4 mm long extending from the sides of the sheaths; blades 4-8 cm long, 1-1.5 mm wide, acute or mucronate, midribs sometimes extending up to 3 mm as a short bristle. Inflorescence: Panicles 4-8 cm long, 7-8 mm wide; spikelets in unequally pediceled pairs, the short pedicels less than 1 mm, longer pedicels 1-2 mm; spikelets 3-4 mm; glumes 1-1.5 mm, scabrous apically; lower glume 2-veined and 2-awned with unequal minutely roughened awns, the shorter awns 1-1.5 mm and the longer awns 1.5-3 mm; upper glumes 1-veined, with single, flexuous 2.5-4 mm awn, occasionally with a second shorter, more delicate awn; lemmas 3-4 mm, tapering to a scabrous 1.5-3 mm awn; disarticulation at the fused base of the pedicels, the paired spikelets falling as a unit, leaving a cuplike tip. Ecology: Found on rocky hills and open slopes, from 2,000-8,500 ft (609-2591 m); flowers July-October Distribution: AZ, NM, s UT, w TX, CO, south to s MEX, and in northern S. Amer. Notes: This species is an erect perennial bunchgrass to 50 cm with bristly spike-like inflorescences of single-flowered awned spikelets. Peterson and Columbus state that its congener, Lycurus setosus, should be transferred to Muhlenbergia as M. alopecuroides but do not explicitly address the position of the other two species of Lycurus, including this species. The single trait distinguishing this species from L. setosus/M. alopecuroides is the bristle at the tip of the leaves; L. setosus has bristles 3-12 mm long, while this species has no bristles, or has minute bristles up to 3 mm. Ethnobotany: unknown Etymology: Lycurus from the Greek lykos, wolf, and oura, tail, an allusion to the spikelike inflorescences; phleoides means similar to Phleum, which is the genus of Timothy grass. Synonyms: Muhlenbergia phleoides Editor: AHazelton 2015
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