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

Hierochloe alpina (Sw. ex Willd.) Roem. & Schult.
alpine sweetgrass
Poaceae (Grass family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants
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Distribution of Hierochloe alpina
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Species Information

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Perennial, tufted grass from short rhizomes; stems erect, hollow, smooth, 15-40 cm tall.
Sheaths open, smooth; blades 1-3 mm wide, in-rolled or flat, smooth on the lower surfaces, hairy on the upper surfaces; ligules consisting of 1/2 basal membrane and 1/2 terminal fringe of hairs, about 0.6 mm long.
Inflorescence a contracted panicle, 1.5-4.5 (5.5) cm long; spikelets 3-flowered, including 2 sterile or male lower florets, tawny, short-stalked, 5-8 mm long; glumes about equal to the lemmas; lower 2 lemmas hairy, awned, the awns arising from fairly deeply bidentate tips, the awns of the lower sterile lemmas straight, 2-4 mm long, the awns of the upper sterile lemmas about 4-8 mm long, twisted, abruptly bent, arising at about midlength or below, the fertile lemmas hairy towards the tips, unawned; anthers about 1.2 mm long; lodicules narrowly egg-shaped to lanceolate, slightly jagged and lobed.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Mesic to dry meadows and rocky slopes in the subalpine and alpine zones; common in N BC, rare S in the Coast Mountains to 52 degrees 45' N; circumpolar, N to AK, YT and NT, E to SW AB, disjunct to ON, PQ and NF and S to ME, NH and NY; Greenland, Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


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

Hierochlod alpina subsp. alpina
Hierochloe alpina subsp. alpina
Hierochloe odorata (L.) P. Beauv.
Savastana alpina (Sw. ex Willd.) Scribn.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References