Pheasant-tail grass Stipa arundinacea, photographed by Spritzhenry.

Belongs within: Stipeae.

Stipa, feather grasses or needle grasses, is a genus of about 100 species of large grasses found in temperate and warm-temperate regions of Eurasia. The circumscription of the genus has been changed significantly in recent years, and is probably still not stabilised.

Stipa pennata, feather grass, is grown as an ornamental for its feathery flower spikes. Other popular ornamental species include S. arundinacea, New Zealand wind grass or pheasant’s-tail grass, which has colourful leaves as well as flower spikes. Stipa spartea, porcupine grass, is a native of western North America with needle-like tips to the seeds; the coiling action of the strands making up these tips as the seed dries allows it to drill into the soil and become fixed in place. Nodding needle-grass S. cernua is another western North American native that is cultivated as a drought-resistant ornamental.

Characters (from Flora of China): Perennials, forming dense tussocks, old basal sheaths persistent. Leaf blades filiform to setaceous, convolute, abaxial surface smooth or scabrid, adaxial surface prominently ribbed. Inflorescence usually a contracted panicle, enclosed in uppermost leaf sheath or shortly exserted, spikelets few. Spikelets with one floret, bisexual; glumes subequal, hyaline or membranous, much longer than floret, 3–5-veined, long acuminate; callus pungent, shortly bearded; lemma narrowly lanceolate, terete, usually leathery, (3–)5-veined, hairy, margins overlapping, apex entire; awn articulated at lemma apex and deciduous at maturity, scabrid to plumose, 1–2-geniculate, column tightly twisted, bristle straight, flexuous or curling; palea subequaling lemma, hyaline, enclosed within lemma. Lodicules 2 or 3, lanceolate. Stamens 3, anthers glabrous or shortly hairy at apex. Stigmas 2.

Stipa [incl. Achnatherum, Jarava]GPWG01
|--S. sect. ErioligulataeG52
| |--S. arachnopus Pilger 1904 [incl. S. horrifolia, S. luehmannii]G52
| |--S. crinita Gaud. 1826G52
| |--S. eremophila Reader 1901 [incl. S. rudis]G52
| |--S. eriopus Benth. 1878G52
| |--S. hirsuta Hughes 1921G52
| |--S. puberula Steud. 1854G52
| |--S. tenuifolia Steud. 1854G52
| |--S. trichophylla Benth. 1878G52
| `--S. variabilis Hughes 1921G52 [incl. S. pubescens var. effusaG52, S. petrieiC06, S. setaceaG52, S. tenuiglumisG52]
| |--S. v. var. variabilisB78
| |--S. v. var. elatiorG52 [=S. scabra var. elatiorB78]
| |--S. ‘setacea’ var. latifolia [incl. S. scelerata]B78
| `--S. v. var. striataG52 [=S. scabra var. striataB78; incl. S. falcataG52, S. incurvaG52]
|--S. sect. LigulataeG52
| |--S. acrociliata Reader 1897G52
| |--S. compressa Br. 1810G52
| |--S. drummondii Steud. 1854G52
| |--S. mcalpinei Reader 1899 [incl. S. compressa var. lachnocolea]G52
| |--S. platychaeta Hughes 1921G52
| |--S. pycnostachya Benth. 1878G52
| `--S. scabra Lindl. 1848G52
|--S. sect. MicropaleataeG52
| |--S. elegantissima Labill. 1804G52
| |--S. tuckeri Muell. 1881G52
| `--S. verticillataG52 (see below for synonymy)
|--S. sect. NesostipaB78
| |--S. aristiglumisB78
| |--S. flavescens [incl. S. laeviculmis]B78
| `--S. pubescens [incl. S. commutata, S. pubinodis]B78
|--S. sect. PlumosaeG52
| |--S. hemipogon Benth. 1878 [incl. S. nobilis]G52
| `--S. semibarbata Br. 1810G52
| |--S. s. var. semibarbataB78
| |--S. s. var. campylachneB78
| `--S. s. var. mollisB78
`--S. sect. SclerophyllaeG52
|--S. juncifolia Hughes 1921G52
|--S. leptophylla Hughes 1921G52
`--S. teretifolia Steud. 1855G52 [incl. Dichelachne setaceaB78, D. stipoidesB78]

Stipa incertae sedis:
S. arabica Trin. & Rupr. 1842SS05
S. arida [=Achnatherum aridum]H93
S. arundinacea Benth. 1881 [=Apera arundinacea; incl. A. purpurascens Col. 1889]C06
S. avenaceaV72
S. baicalensisRJ11
S. barbataGPWG01 [=S. scabra var. barbataB78]
‘Oryzopsis’ × bloomeriH93
S. brachychaeta [=Achnatherum brachychaetum]H93
S. bromoides (Linnaeus) Dörfl. 1897PL04
S. caespitosa (Gris.) Speg. 1901 [=Nassella caespitosa]S06
S. capensisPT98
S. capillataO88
S. cernuaMK08 [=Nassella cernuaH93; incl. S. lepida var. andersoniiH93]
S. claraziiS06
S. consanguineaO88
S. cordobensisS06
S. coronata [=Achnatherum coronatum]H93
S. curamalalensisS06
S. diegoensis [=Achnatherum diegoensis]H93
S. dregeanaGPWG01
S. filifoliaS06
S. hyalinaS06
‘Achnatherum’ hymenoides [=Oryzopsis hymenoides]H93
S. hystricinaS06
S. ichuGPWG01
|--S. i. var. ichuS06
`--S. i. var. gynerioidesS06
‘Achnatherum’ inebriansKC01
S. lagascae Roemer & Schultes 1817GR98
S. latiglumis [=Achnatherum latiglumis]H93
S. lemmonii [=Achnatherium lemmonii; incl. S. columbiana, S. lemmonii var. pubescens non S. pubescens]H93
S. leptostachya Gris. 1879S06
S. letorneuxii Trab. 1889GR98
|--S. l. ssp. letourneuxii [=S. lagascae var. letourneuxii]GR98
`--S. l. ssp. pellita (von Trinius & Ruprecht) Scholz in Greuter & Raus 1998 (see below for synonymy)GR98
S. lettermanii [=Achnatherum lettermanii]H93
S. leucotrichaSF98
S. manicataS06
S. melanosperma Presl. 1830S06
S. mongholicaO88
S. neaei [incl. S. bella Phil. 1870, S. pulchella Munro in Ball 1884]S06
S. neesianaS06
| i. s.: S. n. f. contortaS06
|--S. n. var. neesianaS06
`--S. n. var. virescensS06
‘Achnatherum’ nelsoniiH93
|--A. n. ssp. nelsoniiH93
`--A. n. ssp. doreiH93
S. nevadensis [=Achnatherum nevadensis]H93
S. nitidaZ93
S. nodosaZ93
S. occidentalisH93 [=Achnatherum occidentalisH93, S. scabra var. occidentalisB78]
|--S. o. ssp. occidentalisH93
|--‘Achnatherum’ o. ssp. californicum [=Stipa californica]H93
`--‘Achnatherum’ o. ssp. pubescensH93 (see below for synonymy)
S. pampagrandensisS06
S. papposaS06
‘Achnatherum’ parishii [incl. Stipa coronata var. depauperata]H93
S. pectinataB75
S. pennata Linnaeus 1753PL04
|--S. p. ssp. pennataPL04
`--S. p. ssp. eriocaulis (Borbás) Martinovský & Skalický 1969PL04
S. pinetorum [=Achnatherum pinetorum]H93
S. pulcherrimaH91
S. rarifloraD03
S. robustaKC01
S. royleiO88
S. sanluisensisS06
S. sparteaB75
S. speciosa [=Achnatherum speciosum]H93
S. staintoniiO88
S. stillmanii [=Achnatherum stillmanii]H93
S. tenuisS06
|--S. t. var. tenuisS06
`--S. t. var. argentinaS06
S. tenuissimaV09
S. thurberiana [=Achnatherum thurberianum]H93
S. viridulaCL86
‘Achnatherum’ webberi [=Oryzopsis webberi]H93
S. zuvanticaGR98

‘Achnatherum’ occidentalis ssp. pubescensH93 [=S. scabra var. pubescens nec S. lemmonii var. pubescens nec S. pubescensB78; incl. Stipa elmeriH93]

Stipa letourneuxii ssp. pellita (von Trinius & Ruprecht) Scholz in Greuter & Raus 1998 [=S. lagascae var. pellita von Trinius & Ruprecht 1842, S. pellita (von Trinius & Ruprecht) Tzvelev 1966]GR98

Stipa verticillataG52 [=Streptachne verticillataB78; incl. Stipa breviglumisG52, Stipa ramosissimaB78, Streptachne ramosissimaC06, Urachne ramosissimaB78]

*Type species of generic name indicated


[B78] Bentham, G. 1878. Flora Australiensis: A description of the plants of the Australian Territory vol. 7. Roxburghiaceae to Filices. L. Reeve & Co.: London.

[B75] Bowles, J. B. 1975. Distribution and biogeography of mammals of Iowa. Special Publications, The Museum, Texas Tech University 9: 1–184.

[C06] Cheeseman, T. F. 1906. Manual of the New Zealand Flora. John Mackay, Government Printer: Wellington.

[CL86] Collins, E. I. & R. W. Lichvar. 1986. Vegetation inventory of current and historic black-footed ferret habitat in Wyoming. Great Basin Naturalist Memoirs 8: 85–93.

[D03] Dusén, P. 1903. The vegetation of western Patagonia. In: Scott, W. B. (ed.) Reports of the Princeton University Expeditions to Patagonia, 1896–1899 vol. 8. Botany pp. 1–34. The University: Princeton (New Jersey).

[G52] Gardner, C. A. 1952. Flora of Western Australia vol. 1 pt 1. Gramineae. William H. Wyatt: Perth.

[GPWG01] Grass Phylogeny Working Group. 2001. Phylogeny and subfamilial classification of the grasses (Poaceae). Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 88 (3): 373–457.

[GR98] Greuter, W., & T. Raus (eds.) 1998. Med-Checklist Notulae, 17. Willdenowia 28: 163–174.

[H93] Hickman, J. C. (ed.) 1993. The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California. University of California Press: Berkeley (California).

[H91] Hubálek, Z. 1991. Biogeographic indication of natural foci of tick-borne infections. In: Dusbábek, F., & V. Bukva (eds) Modern Acarology: Proceedings of the VIII International Congress of Acarology, held in České Budĕjovice, Czechoslovakia, 6–11 August 1990 vol. 1 pp. 255–260. SPB Academic Publishing: The Hague.

[KC01] Kirk, P. M., P. F. Cannon, J. C. David & J. A. Stalpers. 2001. Ainsworth & Bisby’s Dictionary of the Fungi 9th ed. CAB International: Wallingford (UK).

[MK08] Mockford, E. L., & P. D. Krushelnycky. 2008. New species and records of Liposcelis Motschulsky (Psocoptera: Liposcelididae) from Hawaii with first description of the male of Liposcelis bostrychophila Badonnel. Zootaxa 1766: 53–68.

[O88] Ohba, H. 1988. The alpine flora of the Nepal Himalayas: an introductory note. In: Ohba, H., & S. B. Malla (eds) The Himalayan Plants vol. 1. The University Museum, University of Tokyo, Bulletin 31: 19–46.

[PT98] Panitsa, M., & D. Tzanoudakis. 1998. Contribution to the study of the Greek flora: flora and vegetation of the E Aegean islands Agathonisi and Pharmakonisi. Willdenowia 28: 95–116.

[PL04] Pohl, G., & I. Lenski. 2004. Zur Verbreitung und Vergesellschaftung von Pennisetum orientale Rich. in Nordeuböa (Griechenland) (Poaceae, Paniceae). Senckenbergiana Biologica 83 (2): 209–223.

[RJ11] Rising, J. D., A. Jaramillo, J. L. Copete, P. G. Ryan & S. C. Madge. 2011. Family Emberizidae (buntings and New World sparrows). In: Hoyo, J. del, A. Elliott & D. A. Christie (eds) Handbook of the Birds of the World vol. 16. Tanagers to New World Blackbirds pp. 428–683. Lynx Edicions: Barcelona.

[SF98] Saikkonen, K., S. H. Faeth, M. Helander & T. J. Sullivan. 1998. Fungal endophytes: a continuum of interactions with host plants. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 29: 319–343.

[SS05] Srivastava, S. K., & K. C. Sekar. 2005. Contribution to the flora of Himachal Pradesh from Pin Valley National Park. Bulletin of the Botanical Survey of India 47 (1–4): 159–162.

[S06] Stuckert, T. 1906. Segunda contribución al conocimiento de las gramináceas Argentinas. Anales del Museo Nacional de Buenos Aires, serie 3, 6: 409–555.

[V09] Verdcourt, B. (ed.) 2009. Additions to the wild fauna and flora of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. XXVI. Miscellaneous records. Kew Bulletin 64 (1): 183–194.

[V72] Voss, E. G. 1972. Michigan Flora. Part I. Gymnosperms and Monocots. Cranbrook Institute of Science and University of Michigan Herbarium.

[Z93] Zimmerman, E. C. 1993. Australian Weevils (Coleoptera: Curculionoidea) vol. 3. Nanophyidae, Rhynchophoridae, Erirhinidae, Curculionidae: Amycterinae, literature consulted. CSIRO Australia.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *