Nature’s Notebook

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Photo for species Pennisetum_ciliare

Buffelgrass is a highly nutritious grass excellent for grazing in hot, dry areas. It also has the conflicted distinction of being a devastating threat to the native flora, fauna, and ecosystem patterns within the Sonoran, Chihuahuan, and Mojave deserts of the southwest United States, and in Hawaii.

Photo Credit:
© Joseph M. DiTomaso, University of California - Davis, Bugwood.org.

Pennisetum ciliare

buffelgrass
What does this species look like?
What does this species look like?: 

Buffelgrass is a tufted, erect to spreading, annual to perennial grass, growing 6 to 60 inches tall. Its tiny, green, inconspicuous flowers have both male and female parts and are wind-pollinated. The flowers are surrounded by bristles and are densely arranged along a spike.

Buffelgrass is a drought-tolerant species that is well adapted to deep, well-drained soils of many textures. It is commonly found in disturbed places, roadsides, and fields, but often occurs on wild, natural sites having sandy soils.

Why observe this species?

Buffelgrass is a USA-NPN regional plant species. Regional species are ecologically or economically important and are distributed more locally than calibration species. The NPN integrates these observations tobetter understand plant responses within the different geographic regions of the nation. Also, this species is potentially invasive. Observations on its phenology will provide valuable information toward understanding its potential for spread and for its control. The NPN does not promote planting or cultivation of this or any invasive plant.

Where is this species found?
States & Provinces: 
AZ, CA, FL, HI, LA, MO, NM, NY, OK, PR, TX, VI
Special Considerations for Observing

If drought seems to be the cause of leaf withering for a plant, please make a comment to that effect.

Which phenophases should I observe?
Leaves

Do you see...?

Initial growth
New growth of the plant is visible after a period of no growth (winter or drought), either as new green shoots sprouting from nodes on existing stems, new green shoots breaking through the soil surface, or re-greening of dried stems or leaves. For each shoot, growth is considered "initial" until the first leaf has unfolded or has fully re-greened.

Leaves
One or more live, green, unfolded leaves are visible on the plant. A leaf is considered "unfolded" once it unrolls slightly from around the stem and begins to fall away at an angle from the stem. Do not include fully dried or dead leaves.

What percentage of the plant is green?

Less than 5%;5-24%;25-49%;50-74%;75-94%;95% or more

Flowers

Do you see...?

Flower heads
One or more fresh flower heads (inflorescences) are visible on the plant. Flower heads, which include many small flowers arranged in spikelets, emerge from inside the stem and gradually grow taller. Include flower heads with unopened or open flowers, but do not include heads whose flowers have all wilted or dried or begun to develop into fruits (grains).

How many fresh flower heads are present?

Less than 3;3 to 10;11 to 100;101 to 1,000;More than 1,000

Open flowers
One or more open, fresh flowers are visible on the plant. A flower is considered "open" when reproductive parts (male anthers or female stigmata) can be seen protruding from the spikelet. Do not include flowers with wilted or dried reproductive parts.

What percentage of all fresh flowers (unopened plus open) on the plant are open?

Less than 5%;5-24%;25-49%;50-74%;75-94%;95% or more

Pollen release
One or more flowers on the plant release visible pollen grains when gently shaken or blown into your palm or onto a dark surface.

How much pollen is released?

Little: Only a few grains are released.;Some: Many grains are released.;Lots: A layer of pollen covers your palm, or a cloud of pollen can be seen in the air when the wind blows

Fruits

Do you see...?

Fruits
One or more fruits are visible on the plant. For Pennisetum ciliare, the fruit is a tiny grain, hidden within tiny bracts and grouped into small clusters that are closely arranged along a spiked plume (or seed head), that changes texture from soft or watery to hard and drops from the plant. Do not include seed heads that have already dropped all of their grains.

How many fruits are present?

Less than 3;3 to 10;11 to 100;101 to 1,000;More than 1,000

More...

Ripe fruits
One or more ripe fruits are visible on the plant. For Pennisetum ciliare, a fruit is considered ripe when it is hard when squeezed and difficult to divide with a fingernail, or when it readily drops from the plant when touched. Do not include seed heads that have already dropped all of their grains.

What percentage of all fruits (unripe plus ripe) on the plant are ripe?

Less than 5%;5-24%;25-49%;50-74%;75-94%;95% or more

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Recent fruit or seed drop
One or more mature fruits or seeds have dropped or been removed from the plant since your last visit. Do not include obviously immature fruits that have dropped before ripening, such as in a heavy rain or wind, or empty fruits that had long ago dropped all of their seeds but remained on the plant.

How many mature fruits have dropped seeds or have completely dropped or been removed from the plant since your last visit?

Less than 3;3 to 10;11 to 100;101 to 1,000;More than 1,000

More...