Page authors: Don Knoke, David Giblin
Distichlis spicata
alkaline grass, coastal

Distribution: Vancouver Island, British Columbia, south to California; also along the east coast of the United States from Canada to Florida and Texas.

Habitat: Coastal beaches, salt marshes, and inland areas where alkaline.

Flowers: June-September

Origin: Native

Growth Duration: Perennial

Conservation Status: Not of concern

Pollination: Wind


Dioecious perennials from extensive rhizomes, the culms solid, 10-40 cm. tall, sometimes decumbent and stolonous.


Sheaths open, glabrous; ligules about 0.5 mm. long; blades involute, 2-4 mm. broad, usually glabrous, stiff and sharp-pointed.


Inflorescence a compact panicle 3-8 cm. long; staminate spikelets yellowish, 7- to 16-flowered, strongly compressed; pistillate spikelets greenish, 5- to 9-flowered; first glume 2-2.5 mm. long, the second 1 mm. longer; staminate lemmas membranous, about 6 mm. long, the pistillate lemmas harder and shorter; paleas slightly shorter, with a winged keel 0.1 mm. broad.

Accepted Name:
Distichlis spicata (L.) Greene
Publication: Bulletin of the Californis Academy of Sciences 2. 1887. 1887.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Distichlis spicata (L.) Greene ssp. stricta (Torr.) Thorne
Distichlis spicata (L.) Greene var. borealis (J. Presl) Beetle [HC]
Distichlis spicata (L.) Greene var. divaricata Beetle
Distichlis spicata (L.) Greene var. nana Beetle
Distichlis spicata (L.) Greene var. stolonifera Beetle
Distichlis spicata (L.) Greene var. stricta (Torr.) Scribn.
Distichlis stricta (Torr.) Rydb. [HC]
Distichlis stricta (Torr.) Rydb. var. dentata (Rydb.) C.L. Hitchc. [HC]
Distichlis stricta (Torr.) Rydb. var. stricta [HC]
Uniola spicata L.
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Distichlis spicata in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database

WA Flora Checklist: Distichlis spicata checklist entry

OregonFlora: Distichlis spicata information

E-Flora BC: Distichlis spicata atlas page

CalPhotos: Distichlis spicata photos

23 photographs:
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