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The boundaries of Achnatherum are not clear. Tsvelev (1976) described it as a genus of 15-20 species native to marginally warm and subtropical regions of Eurasia, North Africa, and North America. A year later (1977), he was persuaded by Keng to expand the genus to include several additional species with a blunt callus. Thomasson () demonstrated that the transferred species were similar in several respects, but particularly their lemma epidermal pattern, to many North American species. Subsequently Barkworth (1993) formally transferred the species to Achnatherum, along with some South American taxa. She has since concluded that there are no South American species of Achnatherum.

Until the limits of the genus are better understood, it is difficult to provide a generic description of Achnatherum. Its recent interpretation is, in many respects, a negative one - it comprises species that used to be included in Stipa but from which the type of Stipa (and its relatives) is excluded.

The type of Achnatherum is A. calamagrostis Beauv.

Table Of Taxa (very incomplete)

The information in the table below, like that in other tables, has been compiled from a number of different sources but, in many instances, the generic treatment has been modified to reflect my narrow interpretation of Stipa and relatively broad interpretation of Achnatherum. Because not all taxa that I would include in Achnatherum have names under that genus, many taxa are listed as species of Stipa. I have also shown the name in Stipa for many species, as an aid to those that do not accept Achnatherum in its broad sense.

Sources: Freitag 1985 [Maps]; Vázquez and Devesa (1996); Flora of China (2006).

Taxon Synonyms Distribution
Achnatherum sect. Aristella (Trin.) Tzvelev Stipa a. aristella Trinius; Aristella (Trin.) Bertol.; S. sect. Aristella (Trinius) Hackel;Stipa subg. Aristella (Trin.) Rouy; Stipa ser. Bromoides Martinovsky; S. sect. Leiostipa ser. Bromoides (Martinovsky) Moraldo
Achnatherum aridum U.S.A. (western)
Achnatherum brandisii (Mez) Z.L. Wu Afghanistan, Bhutan, China (Gansu, Winghai, Sichuan, Xizang, Yunnan), India, Nepal, Pakistan
Achnatherum breviaristatum Keng & P.C. Kuo China (Gansu)
Achnatherum bromoides (L.) Beauv. Agrostis bromoides L.; Aristella bromoides (L.) Bertol.; Achnatherum bromoides (L.) Beauv; Stipa bromoides (L.) Dörfler; Lasiagrostis (L.) Nevski; Stipa aristella L. Africa (north); Azerbaijan; Cyprus; Iran; Iraq; Israel; Palestine Spain; Syria; Turkey S. Aegean Islands
Achnatherum calamagrostis (L.) Beauv. TYPE Agrostis calamagrostis L.; Stipa calamagrostis (L.) Wahlenb.; Lasiagrostis calamagrostis (L.) Link Europe (South, central south); Spain (northern)
Achnatherum capense Questionably in Achnatherum S. (Stipella) capensis Thunb.; S. retorta Cavanilles; S. tortilis Desfontaines Mediterranean, naturalized in Macronesia, southern Africa. Afghanistan; Cyprus; Egypt; Iran; Iraq; Jordan; Pakistan; Palestine; Saudi Arabia; Syria; Turkey
Achnatherum caragana (Trinius) Nevski S. (Lasiagrostis) caragana Trinius; Lasiagrstis caragana (Trin.) Trinius & Ruprehct; Oryzopsis pallescens Westberg; O. asiatica Mez Afghanistan; CAUCASUS, China (Xingjiang), Iran; Kazakhstan, Pakistan; Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey
Achnatherum chinense (Hitchc.) Tzvelev China (Gansu, Hebei, Henan, Nei Mongol, Nigxia, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shanxi)
Achnatherum chingii (Hitchc.) Keng ex P.C. Kuo China (Gansu, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Sichuan, Xizang, Yunnan)
Achnatherum coreanum (Honda) Ohwi Stipa coreana China (Anhui, Hebei, Hubei, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Shaanxi, Zhejiang), Korea, Japan. Has hairy ovary
Achnatherum coronatum (Thurber) Barkworth Stipa coronata Thurber U.S.A. and Mexico: Southwestern California and adjacent Mexico
Achnatherum contractum (B.L. Johnson) Barkworth Oryzopsis contracta (B.L. Johnson) Shechter U.S.A.: Wyoming Fertile hybrid between Achnatherum and Piptatherum? See Shechter & Johnson 1966, 1968; Shechter 1969
Achnatherum curvifolium U.S.A. (southwestern)
Achnatherum diegoense Mexico, U.S.A
Achnatherum duthei (Hook.) P.C. Kuo & S.L. Luo China (Qinhai, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Xizang, Yunnan), India (Sikkim), Kashmir, Nepal
Achnatherum editorum (Fourn.) Valdes-Reyna Stipa editorum Fourn Central Mexico
Achnatherum eminens (Cav.) Barkworth Stipa eminens Cav. Southwestern U.S.A. and Mexico
Achnatherum hendersonii (Vasey) Barkworth Oryzopsis hendersonii Vasey Northwestern contiguous U.S. Rare species
A. henryi (Rendle) S.M. Phillips & Z.L. Wu
var. acutum China (Yunnan)
var. henryi China (Gansu, Hubei, Shaanxi, Sichuan, )
Achnatherum hymenoides (Roem. & Schult.) Barkworth Oryzopsis hymenoides (Roem. & Schult.) Ricker; Stipa hymenoides Roem. & Schult. Widespread western North American species
Achnatherum inaequiglume Keng & P.C. Kuo China (Gansu, Sichuan)
Achnatherum inebrians (Hance) Keng Stipa inebrians Hance China (Gansu, Nei Mongol, Nigxia, Qinghai,, Sichuan, Xinjiang, Xizang), Mongolia
Achnatherum jacquemontii (Jaub. & Spach) P.C. Kuo & S.L. Lu Afghanistan, China (Xizang), India, Kashmir, Pakistan
Achnatherum latiglume U.S.A. (California)
Achnatherum lemmonii (Vasey) Barkworth Stipa lemmonii Vasey Western Canada and U.S.A.
Achnatherum lettermanii U.S.A
Achnatherum lobatum (Swallen) Barkworth Stipa lobata Swallen U.S.A. and Mexico: southern Arizona, New Mexico, west Texas and northcentral Mexico.
Achnatherum longearistatum (Boissier) Nevski S. (Aristella) kurdistanica Bor; Pipthatherum longearistatum Boiss. & Hausskn. ex Boissier; Oryzopsis longearistata (Boissier) Roshevits; Lasiagrostis longearistata (Boissier) Roshevits & Nevski ex Roshevits; Iran and Iraq (Zagros Mountains)
Achnatherum nakai (Honda) Taeoka ex Imzab China (Hebei, Liaoning, Nei Mongol, Shanxi), Mongolia
Achnatherum nelsonii (Scribner) Barkworth Stipa nelsonii Scribn. Western North America
Achnatherum nevadense U.S.A. (western)
Achnatherum occidentale U.S.A. (western)
par U.S.A.
Stipa parviflora Desf. France (southern), Spain, Morocco, Algeria
Achnatherum pekinense (Hance) Ohwi China (Anhui, Gansu, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Henan, Jilin, Nei Mongoal, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanxi, Yunnan), Japan, Korea, Russia
Achnatherum perplexum Hoge & Barkworth Southwestern U.S.A.
Achnatherum pinetorum (M.E. Jones) Barkworth Stipa pinetorum Western (but interior) U.S.A
Achnatherum psilantherum Keng exTzvelev China (Gansu, Qinqhai, Sichuan)
Achnatherum pubicalyx (Ohwi) Keng ex P.C. Kuo China (Gansu, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Nei Mongol, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Xinjiang), Korea
Achnatherum richardsonii Canada, U.S.A.
Achnatherum robustum (Vasey) Barkworth Stipa robusta Vasey western U.S.A.
Achnatherum saposhnikovii (Roshevitz) Nevski China (Gansu, Neil Mongol, Nigxia, Qinghai, Xinjiang), Kazackhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Uzbekistan
Achnatherum scribneri U.S.A. (Colorado, Utah)
Achnatherum sibiricum (L.) Keng Stipa sibirica L. CAUCASUS, China (Heilongjiang, Henan, Nei MOngol, Ningxia, Qinghai, Sichuan, Xinjiang, Yunnan), Kazakhstan, Kyrgyrstan, Mongolia, Russia, uzbekistan, Caucasus
Achnatherum speciosum (Trin. & Rupr.) Barkworth Stipa speciosa Trin. & Rupr. This generic disposition is in serious question. Other suggestions are Jarava or in a promoted Stipa subg. Pappostipa to a genus. Chile, Argentina and, as a disjunct, western U.S.A.
Achnatherum splendens (Trinius) Nevski Stipa splendens Trinius; Lasiagrostis splendens (Trinius) Kunth; S. altaica Trinius; Aristella longiflora Regel; S. schlagintweitii Mez; S. kokonorica Hao; S. munroana Bor Afghanistan, China (Gandu, Heilongjiang, Henan, Nei Mongol, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shanxi, Sichuan, Xinjiang, Xizang, Yunnan), India, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Russia (southern Urals, lower Volga, Siberia) Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan.
Achnatherum stillmanii Placement in Achnatherum dubious, better than in Stipa.
Achnatherum swallenii U.S.A. (western)
Achnatherum thurberianum U.S.A. (western)
Achnatherum turcomanicum (Roshevits) Tzvelev S. litwinowiana Smirnow ex Pavlov & Lipsch.; Lasiagrostis litwinowiana Smirnow ex Gamajun et al.; Oryzopsis turcomanica Roshevits; Afghanistan; Iran (north); Kazakhstan; Turkmenia (south)
Achnatherum wallowaense U.S.A
Achnatherum webberi U.S.A. (western)