Page author: Don Knoke
Melica subulata
Alaska oniongrass

Distribution: Southern Alaska south to California, east to Montana and Wyoming.

Habitat: Open slopes to thick, dry or moist woods, from near sea level to mid-elevations in the mountains.

Flowers: May - July

Origin: Native

Conservation Status: Not of concern


Tufted perennial, the culms 3-8 dm. tall, bulbous-based and clustered on short, thick rhizomes.


Sheaths closed nearly to the top, usually spreading-pubescent; ligules 1-5 mm. long, glabrous, often closed but usually split, somewhat lacerate; blades usually flat, 2-7 mm. broad.


Inflorescence a narrow panicle 10-20 cm. long, the few branches ascending to erect; spikelets loosely 2- to 5-flowered, 12-20 mm. long; rachilla joints 2.5-3 mm. long; glumes pointed, the first 5-6.5 mm. long, the second 7.5-9 mm. long; lemmas acuminate but unawned, 9-13 mm. long; paleas at least 2/3 as long as the lemmas; spikelets with 2-several perfect flowers, but the upper 2-4 flowers sterile, forming a spindle-like body about 5-8 mm. long.

Accepted Name:
Melica subulata (Griseb.) Scribn.
Publication: Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 1885: 47. 1886.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Melica subulata (Griseb.) Scribn. var. pammelii (Scribn.) C.L. Hitchc. [HC]
Melica subulata (Griseb.) Scribn. var. subulata [HC]
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Melica subulata in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database.

WA Flora Checklist: Melica subulata checklist entry.

E-Flora BC: Melica subulata atlas page.

CalPhotos: Melica subulata photos.

USDA Plants: Melica subulata information.

19 photographs:
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