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

Puccinellia nuttalliana (Schult.) Hitchc.
Nuttall's alkaligrass
Poaceae (Grass family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jamie Fenneman  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #17178)

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Distribution of Puccinellia nuttalliana
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Species Information

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Perennial, tufted grass from fibrous roots; stems (30) 40-80 (100) cm tall.
Sheaths open; blades becoming in-rolled, 1-2.5 (3) mm wide; ligules rounded to pointed, usually sparsely short-hairy and rough externally, 1-3 mm long.
Inflorescence a narrow panicle, 6-20 cm long, the branches rough, ultimately spreading (ascending), the lower branches of fruiting inflorescences ascending to spreading, sometimes reflexed; spikelets (3-) 4- to 7-flowered, the stalks usually uniformly rough; glumes sparsely more or less fringed with fine hairs toward the tips, the lower ones about 1.3-2 mm long, the upper ones mostly 1.5-2.5 mm long; rachilla joints slightly over 1 mm long; lemmas sparsely short-hairy near the base, (2) 2.5-3.2 mm long, abruptly narrowed to rounded tips that are slightly more or less fringed with fine hairs, the margins entire below, roughly sharp-toothed near the tips, paleas nearly equal to the lemmas; lodicules about 0.5 mm long; anthers 0.7-1 (1.2) mm long.
Many variants have been recognized in this complex on the basis of anther length, inflorescence branching pattern and other characters, but additional research is required before recognition of additional species is justified. The variant forms appear to be merely weakly differentiated races connected to one another through intermediate forms.

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

Moist to wet (sometimes ephemeral), usually saline or alkaline meadows, ditches and shorelines in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; frequent in BC east of the Coast-Cascade Mountains, rare in coastal BC; N to AK, YT and NT, E to PQ and NB and S to ME, VT, WI, MN, NE, TX, NM, AZ and CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Puccinellia nuttalliana

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) 477 917 1500
Slope Gradient (%) 0 1 15
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
50 134 350
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
3 5 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: BG(6), BWBS(4), ESSF(1), ICH(1), IDF(58), MS(1), PP(16), SBPS(4), SBS(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

Puccinellia agrostidea T.J. Sørensen
Puccinellia airoides (Nutt.) S. Watson & J.M. Coult.
Puccinellia borealis
Puccinellia cusickii Weath.
Puccinellia deschampsioides T.J. Sørensen
Puccinellia interior T.J. Sørensen

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References