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Smith's Melic Grass (Melica smithii)
Smith's Melic Grass (Melica smithii), a State Endangered plant, is found in rich hardwood forests in Penokee Range. Blooming occurs early June through late July; fruiting occurs early June through late August. The optimal identification period for this species is late June through early August.
Synonyms: Avena smithii, Bromelica smithii
- Distinguishing characteristics: Panicle branches reflexed at maturity; base stem enlarged and bulbous; pedicels densely antrorse-hispid (tiny, forward-curving, stiff hairs) and sheaths retrorsely scabrous (tiny, downward-pointing, short, stiff hairs).
- Flower characteristics: Panicle 12 to 25 cm long, the branches solitary, distant, spreading, naked below, sometimes reflexed, as much as 10 cm long; spikelets 3- to 6-flowered, 18 to 20 mm long, sometimes purplish.
- Fruit characteristics: Glumes acute; lemmas about 10 mm long, with an awn 3 to 5 mm long.
- Leaf characteristics: Sheaths retrorsely scabrous; blades lax, scabrous, 10 to 20 cm long, 6 to 12 mm wide.
- Blooming phenology: early June through late July
- Fruiting phenology: early June through late August
- Optimum time to identify: late June through early August
- Growth form: Graminoid
- Vegetative reproduction:
- Life cycle: Perennial
- Comments: Associated Species: Acer saccharum, Tilia americana, Betula alleghaniensis, Corylus cornuta.
Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin
The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Smith's Melic Grass (Melica smithii). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.
|Federal Status in Wisconsin||none|
|Tracked by NHI||Y|
Habitats and landscapes
The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.
General habitat information
- Habitat description: Found in rich hardwood forests in Penokee Range.
- Soils: Moist soils.
This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Smith's Melic Grass. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).
|Northern Mesic Forest||3|
This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Smith's Melic Grass. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.
The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.
These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.
- Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.
- Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.
Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species
- Maintain high forest canopy cover; this species requires shaded habitat conditions.
- Survey for and control invasive plants prior to conducting timber operations, as these can be spread by vehicles and often respond vigorously to increased light; see forestry BMPs for invasive species.
Links to additional Smith's Melic Grass information
Other links related to vascular plants (all exit the DNR website)
- Wisconsin Vascular Plants
- Freckmann Herbarium
- Atlas of Wisconsin Prairie and Savanna Flora - Wisconsin State Herbarium
- USDA - NRCS Plants Database
- USGS Midwestern Wetland Flora - field office guide to plant species
- Cofrin Center for Biodiversity Herbarium
- Intermountain Herbarium Grasses of North America
- Orchids of Wisconsin
No additional photos are available for Smith's Melic Grass at this time. Please consider donating a photo to the Endangered Resources Program.
Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin.