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Spinifex littoreus

Description from Flora of China

Stipa littorea N. L. Burman, Fl. Indica 29. 1767; Spinifex squarrosus Linnaeus; Stipa spinifex Linnaeus.

Culms stoloniferous, hard, stout, many-noded, rooting and copiously branching at nodes, flowering shoots ascending to 30–100 cm, internodes farinose. Leaf sheaths broad, rounded on back, imbricate; leaf blades distichous, very tough, involute-subulate, curved, 5–20 × 0.2–0.3 cm, margins scabrous, apex spiny; ligule densely ciliate. Staminate inflorescence of 2–5 clustered turbinate heads 5–10 × 6–8 cm; racemes 3–6 cm, bearing 5–10 loosely imbricate spikelets. Staminate spikelets lanceolate, 8–12 mm; glumes oblong-lanceolate, 7–9-veined, lower glume 1/2 spikelet length, upper glume 2/3 spikelet length; lower lemma 5-veined, 8–10 mm, palea with winged ciliate keels; upper lemma with unkeeled palea. Female inflorescence globose, 20–35 cm in diam.; racemes unispiculate with needle-like 10–18 cm rachis. Female spikelets lanceolate-oblong, 10–20 mm, acuminate; glumes oblong-lanceolate, low-er glume many-veined, upper glume 7–9-veined; lower lemma ovate-lanceolate, 5-veined, palea absent; upper lemma lanceolate, yellowish. Fl. and fr. summer-autumn.

This species is an efficient sand binder, forming large colonies and stabilizing dunes. The female inflorescences act as tumbleweeds. The seeds within are dispersed as the spiky head is transported along the coast by wind and sea.

Sandy beaches, seashore dunes. Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, Taiwan [Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam].


 

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  • Spinifex littoreus male plant drawing (CC Hsu)
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