Page authors: Don Knoke, David Giblin
Melica subulata
Alaska oniongrass

Distribution: Occurring on both sides of the Cascades crest in Washington; Alaska to California, east to the Rocky Mountains and northern Great Plains.

Habitat: Open slopes to thick, dry or moist woods, from near sea level to middle elevations in the mountains.

Flowers: May-July

Origin: Native

Growth Duration: Perennial

Conservation Status: Not of concern

Pollination: Wind


Tufted perennial, the culms 3-8 dm. tall, bulbous-based and clustered on short, thick rhizomes.


Sheaths closed nearly to the top, usually spreading-pubescent; ligules 1-5 mm. long, glabrous, often closed but usually split, somewhat lacerate; blades usually flat, 2-7 mm. broad.


Inflorescence a narrow panicle 10-20 cm. long, the few branches ascending to erect; spikelets loosely 2- to 5-flowered, 12-20 mm. long; rachilla joints 2.5-3 mm. long; glumes pointed, the first 5-6.5 mm. long, the second 7.5-9 mm. long; lemmas acuminate but unawned, 9-13 mm. long; paleas at least 2/3 as long as the lemmas; spikelets with 2-several perfect flowers, but the upper 2-4 flowers sterile, forming a spindle-like body about 5-8 mm. long.

Accepted Name:
Melica subulata (Griseb.) Scribn.
Publication: Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 1885: 47. 1886.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Melica subulata (Griseb.) Scribn. var. pammelii (Scribn.) C.L. Hitchc. [HC]
Melica subulata (Griseb.) Scribn. var. subulata [HC]
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Melica subulata in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database

WA Flora Checklist: Melica subulata checklist entry

OregonFlora: Melica subulata information

E-Flora BC: Melica subulata atlas page

CalPhotos: Melica subulata photos

22 photographs:
Group by