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

Melica bulbosa Geyer ex Porter & J.M. Coult.
Western Onion Grass (oniongrass)
Poaceae (Grass family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants
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Distribution of Melica bulbosa
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Species Information

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Perennial, strongly tufted grass from short, thick rhizomes, bulbous-based, the bulbs closely clustered on the rhizomes and not readily separable, not remaining attached; stems erect, 30-100 cm tall.
Sheaths usually closed almost their full length, minutely rough to strongly crisp- or spreading-hairy; blades minutely rough- to crisp-hairy, 2-4 (5) mm wide, flat to somewhat in-rolled; ligules usually open in front, jagged, smooth or rarely minutely rough-hairy, (2) 3-4 (6) mm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Late Spring
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Brown
Present over the Summer
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Mesic to dry meadows, grassy slopes or shrublands in the steppe to subalpine zones; rare in S BC in and east of the Coast-Cascade mountains; disjunct E to SK and S to TX, CO, UT, NV and CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Melica bulbosa

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) 630 1130 1504
Slope Gradient (%) 0 25 60
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
60 199 260
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
2 3 5
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: ICH(2), IDF(3), MS(3)


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

Melica bulbosa var. bulbosa Geyer ex Porter & Coult.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References