Common Graminoid Species of the Northwest Forest






Terminology | Pictorial

Oryzopsis asperifolia
Rough-leaved Rice Grass
"White-grained Mountain Rice Grass"

Poaceae (Grass Family)

Rough Mountain Rice Description

General - loosely tufted perennial; stems erect to wide spreading; 20 - 70 cm tall.

Leaves - most at stem base, erect, firm, later limp and laying on ground, flat or slightly rolled, 3 - 10 mm wide, rough, taper at both ends; ligules short, to 1 mm long, hairy- fringed.

Flower Cluster - simple, few-flowered, spike-like panicle, 5 - 10 cm long, with erect branches; spikelets 1- flowered, 6 - 9 mm long; glumes 6 - 8 mm long, green with translucent edges, abruptly pointed; lemmas hard, rounded, 6 - 9 mm long, whitish, densely hairy at base, with 5 - 10 mm long awn at tip.


Dry to moist open woods and clearings; widespread across Northwestern Ontario's southern boreal forest and parkland; north and west to southern N.W.T. and northern British Columbia.


Northern rice grass (O. pungens) is short (to 40 cm tall) and densely tufted with short, wiry, hair-like leaves, and it has small spikelets (3 - 4 mm long). Except for the shape of its spikelets, it does not look much like white-grained mountain rice grass and it tends to grow in drier habitats - sandy-gravelly soils in open forests and on terraces and outcrops - across the boreal forest, north and west to Great Bear Lake and the southern Yukon. The rice grasses can dominate dry forested sites in the southern parts of Northwestern Ontario. Their clusters of reclining leaves form characteristic circles on areas of forest floor without many herbs. The genus is named Oryzopsis, from the Greek oruza, 'rice', and opsis, 'like', because the swollen spikelets of these grasses are very similar to those of cultivated rice (Oryza sativa). The species name asperifolia is from the Latin asper, 'rough' and folium, 'leaf', in reference to the relatively large, rough leaves.

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