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

Puccinellia nutkaensis (J. Presl) Fernald & Weath.
Pacific alkaligrass (Alaska alkaligrass; Nootka alkaligrass)
Poaceae (Grass family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jamie Fenneman  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #9842)

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Distribution of Puccinellia nutkaensis
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Species Information

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Perennial grass from fibrous roots, often more or less from stolons; stems 20-60 cm tall.
Sheaths open; blades lax, flat to somewhat in-rolled, 1-2 mm wide; ligules rounded, (1) 1.5-3.5 mm long.
Inflorescence a narrow panicle, (5) 8-15 cm long, the branches smooth or sometimes slightly rough, mostly erect, mostly only 1-3 cm long, the lower branches of the fruiting inflorescences usually erect to ascending, occasionally spreading; spikelets (4-) 5- to 6- (7-) flowered, spikelet stalks usually uniformly rough, occasionally nearly smooth and bearing a few scattered projections; florets apparently closed, self-fertile; glumes broad, usually one or both slightly jagged or more or less fringed with fine hairs toward the tips, the lower ones about 1.5 mm long, the upper ones mostly 2.2-2.5 mm long; rachilla joints slightly over 1 mm long; lemmas narrowed abruptly, entire below, more or less fringed with fine hairs to jagged or even lobed above, sparsely short-hairy near the base, 3-3.6 mm long, lemma tips sharp-pointed to broadly rounded, paleas nearly equal to the lemmas; lodicules 0.5-1 mm long; anthers 0.7-1.2 mm long, usually partially exserted.
Puccinellia nutkaensis is sometimes barely distinct from P. nuttalliana, and like other named entities may represent an ecological race of the latter species. Larger plants in E and W North America have been recognized as P. lucida, but they are not consistently differentiable from P. nutkaensis.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Beaches, tidal flats and marshes in the lowland zone; frequent in coastal BC; N to AK, E disjunctly to PQ and S to CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Puccinellia nutkaensis

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) 440 702 1236
Slope Gradient (%) 0 3 10
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
8 42 332
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
5 6 7
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: IDF(6), PP(2)


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

Phippsia nutkaensis (J. Presl) A. L÷ve & D. L÷ve
Puccinellia grandis Swallen
Puccinellia lucida Fernald & Weath.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References