Plant Species of the Bright Angel Trail:
Parish needlegrass, Achnatherum parishii
Synonym: Stipa coronata var. depauperata.
See Plant Guide to Bright Angel Trail for an introduction to this page, especially the Introduction To These Species Pages.
Identification status: 100%.
McDougall key:63' Glumes sharp-pointed
65' Awn bent once
68' Awn not hairy
69' Awn not hairy
70 Lemma densely soft-hairy with long, white hairs all over back ...Stipa coronata var. depauperata
If one accepts the varieties, according to USDA Plants, only var. parishii is found in Arizona. (I don't have a key to separate the varieties.)
The 1987 Grand Canyon Flora says that this species has been reported growing in large clumps on slopes in Grand Canyon, especially along Kaibab Trail from 3500-5000 feet. There is only a single online voucher of this species from the Coconino County portion of the Grand Canyon, from Kaibab Trail.
Achnatherum scribneri is a somewhat-similar species that has been reported growing from near the location of these plants. The 1987 Grand Canyon Flora says that A. scribneri grows on dry, rocky slopes along Bright Angel Trail, and north Kaibab Trail to Roaring Springs, Inner Canyon. Kearney and Peebles report that Hitchcock 10448 is of A. scribneri from the Bright Angel Trail between 5000 and 7000 feet elevation. (That voucher is not online at SEINet, so I can't check whether the determination of that voucher has changed.) Oddly, though, USDA Plants does not place A. scribneri in Arizona. There is only a single online voucher of A. scribneri from the Coconino County portion of the Grand Canyon, from 2.5 mile down the Kaibab Trail from the south rim.
For the specimen in the photographs given below, Achnatherum scribneri is ruled out by the awn being bent once, not twice; the hairs at the lemma tip being 3 mm, not 2 mm or less; and the lemma body below the tip being long hairy, not short hairy.
From a SEINet search on 17 May 2008, there is only a single voucher of this species from the Coconino County portion of the Grand Canyon, from Kaibab Trail. Note that there may be additional vouchers at other herbaria not available through SEINet.
First occurrence on Bright Angel Trail: mile 2.2, elevation 5400 feet (1646 m).
Number of plants along Trail: at least 20 plants were found in at least 9 different locations in May 2008.
From 6 May 2008, mile 2.2:
In the following picture, assuming that the lemma is 8 mm long, the hairs at the lemma tip are 3.0 mm long. It is difficult to see the long hairs on the lemma body below the tip, but there are several long ascending to nearly appressed hairs from the middle of the lemma body visible on the side of the lemma near the bottom of the photograph.
See Resources for Grand Canyon Flora for further information on most of these references. Entries in the second column are either the name used in that source or a page reference. The name is linked to online pages when available. If a given reference does not contain this taxon, the entry is either left blank or contains a hyphen.
Copyright © 2008 by Tom Chester.
Permission is freely granted to reproduce any or all of this page as long as credit is given to me at this source:
Comments and feedback: Tom Chester
Last Update: 17 May 2008