Leersia

Leersia

Pictured above: Leersia oryzoides

This genus consists of rhizomatous perennials with short ligules that often continue onto the sheath as auricles. Spikelets are 1-flowered, awnless, compressed laterally, and lack glumes. Lemmas tightly enclose the firm margins of the palea.

There are 3 species in MN; 3 are native.

Common species:
Leersia oryzoides (lear' zee ah o rye' zo ee' dees)

  • Synonyms: None
  • Common names: rice cut-grass, white grass
  • Origin and habitat: Native; moist to wet meadows, stream banks, and lakeshores
  • Identifying characters: Cespitose perennials as much as 1.5 m tall with a ring of felt-like hairs covering the nodes. Leaves are strongly scabrous with the blade margins almost prickly. The collar area is pubescent and hardened, with tiny ligules (up to 0.5 mm) that are higher on the sides. The inflorescence is a nodding open panicle with whitish or greenish spikelets with the lemmas stiffly ciliate on the keel.
  • Comments: This is the grass so often encountered when hiking across wet meadows. The leaves are almost like saw blades. Leersia is easily recognized from a distance because it often forms a zone of light yellow-green around ponds and along streams.

Maps

Leersia Map

Additional species in Minnesota:
L. lenticularis
L. virginica

Copyright 2002, A.F. Cholewa, J.F. Bell Museum of Natural History, University of Minnesota / No portion of this guide may be duplicated without written permission of author.