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Canada Mountain Ricegrass (Piptatheropsis canadensis)

Life history

Species overview

Canada Mountain Ricegrass (Piptatheropsis canadensis), a Wisconsin Special Concern plant, is found in pine and oak barrens and open oak woodlands. Blooming occurs late June through early July; fruiting occurs early July through early August. The optimal identification period for this species is early July through early August.

Synonyms: Piptatherum canadense, Stipa canadensis


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Can be distinguished from other Oryzopsis species in Wisconsin by its leaf blades, which have in-rolled margins and its awns, which are greater than 2 mm and twisted.
  • Flower characteristics: Panicle open, 5 to 10 cm long, the slender flexuous branches ascending or spreading, naked below, few-flowered above; spikelets long-pediceled.
  • Fruit characteristics: Glumes 4 to 5 mm long, abruptly acute; lemma about 3 mm long, rather sparsely appressed-pilose, the awn 1 to 2 cm long, weakly twice geniculate.
  • Leaf characteristics: Ligule about 2 mm long; blades flat to involute, scabrous.


  • Blooming phenology: late June through early July
  • Fruiting phenology: early July through early August
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is early July through early August


  • Growth form: Graminoid
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Pinus banksiana, P. resinosa, Quercus ellipsoidalis, Q. velutina, Populus tremuloides.

State status

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 Canada Mountain Ricegrass (Piptatheropsis canadensis). 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.

Documented locations of Piptatheropsis canadensis in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS1
Global RankG4G5
Tracked by NHIY

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 pine and oak barrens and open oak woodlands.
  • Soils: Dry, sandy or rocky soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Canada Mountain Ricegrass. 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).

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Canada Mountain Ricegrass. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Species guidance

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.

Avoidance measures

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 site preparation that heavily disturbs herbaceous ground layer and soil; these include bulldozing and furrowing, as well as grubbing and stump removal.
  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.
  • Avoid locating landings, staging areas, or access routes in open sandy areas dominated by native grasses.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • 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.
  • Prescribed burns and/or brushing may be beneficial (dependent on local site conditions).
  • Maintain low canopy cover areas for savanna and barrens plant species.


Canada Mountain Ricegrass Photo.

Photo © William S. Alverson.

Canada Mountain Ricegrass Photo.

Photo by  staff, Wisconsin DNR.

Canada Mountain Ricegrass Photo.

Photo © William S. Alverson.

Canada Mountain Ricegrass Photo.

Photo © Robert H. Read.

Canada Mountain Ricegrass Photo.

Photo © Robert H. Read.

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 [exit DNR].

Last revised: Wednesday, May 05, 2021
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition