14.21 BRIZA L.
Neil Snow

Plants annual or perennial; cespitose. Culms 5–100 cm, usually erect, unbranched; internodes hollow; nodes glabrous. Sheaths sometimes less than 1/2 as long as the internodes, open; auricles absent; ligules hyaline; blades flat, usually erect. Inflorescences open panicles; branches sparsely strigose, capillary, spikelets usually pendulous, some branches longer than 1 cm. Spikelets pedicellate, pendulous, oval to triangular in side view, becoming light brown at maturity, laterally compressed but the glumes and lemmas with broadly rounded backs, glumes and florets strongly divergent from the rachillas, with 4–12(15) chartaceous florets, distal florets rudimentary; rachillas glabrous, not prolonged beyond base of the distal floret; disarticulation above the glumes and beneath the florets. Glumes subequal, shorter than to longer than the adjacent lemmas, naviculate, faintly 3–7-veined, margins more or less membranous, apices obtuse, unawned; calluses short, glabrous; lemmas inflated, about as wide as long, with broadly rounded backs, similar in shape to the glumes but somewhat cordate, margins becoming hyaline, frequently splitting perpendicular to the midveins, unawned; paleas shorter than the lemmas, scarious or chartaceous; lodicules 2, joined or free, usually entire, sometimes toothed; anthers 3; ovaries glabrous. Caryopses shorter than the lemmas, concealed at maturity, usually falling with the lemma and palea, ovoid to obovoid; hila round to elliptic. x = 5, 7. From the Greek brizo, ‘to nod’, in reference to the spikelets.

Briza, a genus of about 20 species, is native to Eurasia and South America. Most species have little to no fodder value because of the scant foliage. The ornamental value of the genus is more significant; the species are often grown for use in dried floral arrangements. Three European species are now scattered in the more temperate parts of southern Canada and the United States, and will undoubtedly be collected in areas not indicated here. Briza species can become weedy where established.

SELECTED REFERENCES Gould, F.W. 1975. The Grasses of Texas. Texas A&M University Press, College Station, Texas, U.S.A. 653 pp.; Murray, B.G. and N.R.N. Barker. 1988. Pollen/stigma interactions and hybridization in the genus Briza L. (Gramineae). Evol. Trends Pl. 2:107–110.

[Click here for interactive version of dichotomous key, here for multientry interactive key].

1. Plants perennial; ligules about 0.5 mm long; sheaths open for about 1/2 their length B. media
1. Plants annual; ligules 3–13 mm long; sheaths open to near the base (2)
2. Spikelets 10–20 mm long B. maxima
2. Spikelets 2–7 mm long B. minor

Briza media L.
Perennial Quakinggrass, Amourette Commune, Amour du Vent

Plants perennial, shortly rhizomatous. Culms 15–75 cm. Leaves mostly basal; sheaths about 1/2 the length of the internodes, open about 1/2 their length; ligules about 0.5 mm, usually not decurrent, some-times erose at the apices, truncate; blades 4–16 cm long, blades of the upper leaves shorter than those below, 1.9–3.2 mm wide, glabrous or scabridulous, margins strigose. Panicles 8–20 cm long, to almost as wide; pedicels 5–20 mm. Spikelets 4–5.5 mm, mostly oval, with 3–6(10) florets. Lower glumes 2.5–3.2 mm; upper glumes 2.5–4 mm; lowermost lemmas 3–4 mm, indistinctly 9- or 10-veined, apices broadly obtuse; paleas about 3 mm, V-shaped in cross section, scarious, margins hyaline and ciliolate; anthers 1.3–2 mm. Caryopses 1.2–1.5 mm, distinctly flattened on 1 side. 2n = 10, 14, 28.

Briza media is native to chalk and clay grasslands of Europe. It grows in acid to calcareous soils in moist to somewhat dry, sunny conditions, in meadow floodplains, forest clearings, old meadows, and pastures. It is often grown as an ornamental, and can colonize artificial habitats such as roadsides, but does not appear to invade recently disturbed locations. In the Flora region, it is most abundant in eastern North America, and is found in a few widely scattered locations elsewhere.

Briza maxima L.
Big Quakinggrass

Plants annual. Culms 20–80 cm. Leaves evenly distributed; sheaths frequently less than 1/2 as long as the internodes, open to near the base, margins over-lapping; ligules 3–7 mm, sides sometimes decurrent, margins entire to erose, acute; blades 2.5–20 cm long, 2–8 mm wide, margins strigose or glabrous. Panicles 3.5–10 cm long, mostly 1–5 cm wide; pedicels 5–20 mm. Spikelets 10–20 mm, oval to elliptic, with 4–12(15) florets. Lower glumes 5–5.5 mm, 5-veined; upper glumes 6–6.5 mm, 7-veined; lowermost lemmas 7–9 mm, 7–9-veined, surfaces usually glabrous proximally, becoming villous distally, apices obtuse; paleas about 4 mm, more or less ciliolate along the margins; anthers 1.2–1.5 mm. Caryopses 2–3 mm, obovoid. 2n = 10, 14.

Briza maxima is native to the Mediterranean region. Cultivated as an ornamental, it is possibly one of the earliest grasses grown for other than edible purposes. It occasionally becomes naturalized in dry to somewhat moist but well-drained, fine or sandy soil on banks, rocky places, open woodlands, and cultivated areas such as roadsides and pastures. In the Flora region, it is known from scattered locations, mostly in Oregon and California, where it is an invader of coastal dune habitat.

Briza minor L.
Little Quakinggrass

Plants annual. Culms 7.5–80 cm. Leaves evenly distributed; sheaths 1/2–3/4 the length of the internodes, open to near the base, margins hyaline distally; ligules 4–13 mm, sides some-times decurrent, margins at the base sometimes encasing the culms, truncate to acute; blades 5.5–12 cm long, 1–8(10) mm wide, slightly scabrous. Panicles (2)4–14(18) cm long, to 11 cm wide; pedicels 4–12 mm. Spikelets (2)3–4(7) mm, triangular to oval, with 4–7(13) florets. Lower glumes 2–2.5 mm; upper glumes 2–3.5 mm; lowermost lemmas 1.6–2 mm, frequently irregular in shape, becoming hyaline distally, glabrous, sometimes minutely scurfy, veins indistinct; paleas about 1.5 mm, often minutely scurfy; anthers 0.4–0.5 mm. Caryopses 0.8–1 mm, ovoid. 2n = 10, 14.

Briza minor is native to the Mediterranean region. It is the most widespread species of Briza in the Flora region, growing in many habitats: swamp margins, seasonal wetlands and around vernal pools, open woodlands, sandhills, roadsides, and pastures. It appears to be established from southern British Columbia south through western Oregon to California and Arizona, and in the east from the Atlantic states to the Gulf Coast states, inland to Oklahoma and Arkansas.