E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Danthonia spicata (L.) P. Beauv. ex Roem. & Schult.
poverty oatgrass
Poaceae (Grass family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jamie Fenneman  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #4209)

E-Flora BC Static Map
Distribution of Danthonia spicata
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Species Information

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Perennial tufted grass from fibrous roots; stems disarticulating at the nodes, (7) 10-70 (100) cm tall.
Sheaths soft-hairy to smooth; blades 0.8-3 (4) mm wide, 6-15 (20) cm long, smooth to soft- hairy, curled with age; ligules less than 1 mm long, fringed with short hairs.
Inflorescence a narrow panicle with 5 to 10 (18) spikelets, the lower branches with 2 or 3 spikelets, these with stalks shorter than the spikelets; spikelets 7-15 mm long; lemmas (2.5) 3-4 (5) mm long, soft-hairy, or sometimes smooth over the back, the apical teeth pointed to stiff-awned, 0.5-2 mm long, also awned from the back, the awns abruptly bent, 5-8 mm long, the calluses about as long as wide, with stiff hairs laterally; anthers to 2.5 mm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Mesic to dry shorelines, open forests and meadows in the lowland and montane zones; frequent throughout BC; N to AK, YT and NT, E to NF and S to ME, MA, PA, SC, FL, MS, LA, TX, NM, ID and OR; Greenland.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Danthonia spicata

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 30 768 2500
Slope Gradient (%) 0 27 100
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
5 191 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 2 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: AT(2), CDF(3), CWH(42), ESSF(18), ICH(55), IDF(35), MS(7), PP(2), SBPS(4), SWB(2)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade­intolerant, submontane to montane, trans­continental North American grass. Species occurs on very dry to moderately dry, nitrogen-poor soils (Mar humus forms) within boreal, temperate, and cool mesothermal climates; their occurrence decreases with increasing elevation and precipitation. Sporadic in open-canopy, young-seral forests on strongly drained and shallow soils on water­shedding sites; often present in non-forested communities on rock outcrops. Characteristic of moisture-deficient sites.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Danthonia pinetorum
Danthonia sericea Nutt.
Danthonia spicata var. longipila Scribn. & Merr.
Danthonia spicata var. pinetorum Piper
Danthonia thermale
Danthonia thermalis Scribn.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References