Botanical Name: Beckmannia syzigachne
Species: B. syzigachne
*Beckmannia baicalensis Hultén
*Beckmannia hirsutiflora (Roshev.) Prob.
*Panicum syzigachne Steud.
Common Names: American sloughgrass, or Slough grass
Habitat: Beckmannia syzigachne is native to Eastern Europe to central Asia and North America. It grows on wet meadows, swamps, marshes and shallow water.
Beckmannia syzigachne is a perennial grass, growing to 1.5 m (5ft).
Flower: It is in flower from May to June.
Flower shape: indistinct Cluster type: panicle Cluster type: raceme Cluster type: spike
Raceme-like branching cluster 3 to 12 inches long at the tip of the stem, the 4 to 15 main branches appressed to ascending, with 1 to several appressed branchlets per branch, each branchlet up to about 3/8 inch (1cm) long. Spikelets (flower clusters) are about 1/8 inch (2 to 3.5mm) long, flattened, round to broadly oval with an abruptly pointed tip, and have a single fertile floret, occasionally also with a single, minute, sterile floret. Spikelets are arranged on one side of the rachis (stalk), tightly packed in 2 rows, the spikelets overlapping. All parts are hairless.
At the base of a spikelet is a pair of bracts (glumes) that are firm, light green with thin translucent edging, D-shaped in outline, pointed at the tip, 3-veined, both the same size and the pair completely enclosing the floret except the very tip. Surrounding a floret are a pair of bracts (lemma and palea), the lemma lance-elliptic, tapering to a pointed tip, 5-veined and as long as or slightly longer than the glumes. The palea is slightly shorter than the lemma and 2-veined.
Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple
Leaves are 3 to 8 inches long, 1/8 to 3/8 inch (4 to 10mm) wide, flat, the surfaces hairless but rough textured. Sheaths are hairless with thin, translucent white edging, and mostly overlap near the tip. Basal leaves are few. The ligule (membrane where the leaf joins the sheath) is a loose, thin, membranous band up to about 3/8 inch (3 to 11mm) long, triangular or ragged along the edge, and often folded back. Nodes are hairless and green to purplish. Stems are erect, hairless, single or a few from the base, forming loose clumps.
Fruit: The seeds ripen from July to August
Fruit type: seed without plume
Spikelets ripen to light brown, the spikelets shedding as each grain matures, leaving a naked stem behind. Grains (seeds) are light to medium brown and less than 2 mm long.
Prefers a moist to wet soil, succeeding in shallow water. Tolerates saline soils. Tolerates a pH in the range 5.8 to 7.6. We have no specific information on the hardiness of this species, but we have grown it successfully outdoors in Cornwall and, judging by its range, it should be cold-hardy in most if not all of Britain. Some botanists treat this species as no more than a synonym of B. eruciformis.
Seed – cooked. A mild flavour, it can be ground into a flour and used as a cereal. The seed is very small but is easily harvested. It does then have to be separated from its husk, which is a very fiddly operation. Some N. American Indian tribes burn the husks of grass seeds.
The plant is used for making bedding and pillows.
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