An Illustrated Guide to ARIZONA WEEDS

The University of Arizona Press

DESERT SALTGRASS, inland saltgrass, seashore saltgrass,marsh spikegrass, saltgrass



DESERT SALTGRASS-Distichlis stricta (Torr.) Rydb.

DESCRIPTION-Desert saltgrass is a low stiff perennial, 4 to 16 inches high, reproducing by seed and by tough, extensively creeping underground stems. These root at the joints and produce new stems, often forming dense colonies. The lower part of the hard rigid aboveground stems usually lies on the ground, then becomes erect.

The narrow leaves are alternate, but come off the stem in two rows. They are l/2 to 4 inches long, and about l/8 inch broad, sometimes folded lengthwise, or the edges rolled inward. The flowering part of the plant at the top of the stem is yellowish, short, and narrow. Although all the plants look alike, including their spikelets, there are actually two kinds of saltgrass plants, male and female. Each spikelet contains 5 to 10 bractlike flowers. Those on the male plants bear stamens only, and the female only pistils. The grain remains enclosed in a pointed greenish or purplish hull.

DISTRIBUTION-A native weed in moist to dryish mostly alkaline soil, or some- times on sandy or heavy bottomland soil. Common on the Little Colorado and Salt River Valley drainage flood plains, and marshes in the desert and northern desert, in Apache, Navajo, Coconino counties and southward; 100 to 6,000 (rarely higher) feet elevation; flowering from May to October. From its native habitat, saltgrass has spread to the irrigated lands, and become a pest in ditches, cotton fields, and other crops, as in the Yuma and Moencopi (Navajo County) areas.

Copyright (c) 1972 The Arizona Board of Regents

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