Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Alaska oniongrass, Melica subulata, May−June, Native

This grass could be mistaken for either California brome or particularly Bromus vulgaris, which also grow along trails 1 and 2. It would not be confused, however, for either Torrey's or small-flowered melic which also grow along these trails. Unlike the bromes, its leaves, sheath, and stems are shinny/glabrous rather than dull green/hairy. Like bromes, melics have closed sheaths. It also lacks the awned lemmas of the two bromes, thought its lemmas are conspicuously acuminate (subulate). It is abundant in section 14, grids 3D, 3E, in the vicinity of 568460, 4140723. Grows with Holodiscus discolor, Aesculus californicus, yerba buena, Trillium chloropetalum, Tellima grandiflora, Rubus ursinus.

Geyer's melic (Melica geyeri) has been reported from above Trail 1 in the vicinity of the Tafoni caves, but the report rested on a misidentified voucher. The nearest known location of Geyer's melic is about 900 feet higher than Jasper Ridge
in the Santa Cruz Mountains in the nearby Los Trancos Open Space Preserve and along the Los Trancos Creek Trail in Palo Alto's Foothill Park. These two melics at arms length look similar. Geyer's melic has glabrous lemma's with acute tips; Alaskan melic has hairs on the lemma veins and the lemmas are acuminate, i.e., long tapering.