Plants perennial; forming small, dense tufts. Culms 5-30 cm. Sheaths
generally shorter than the internodes; ligules 1-1.5 mm, ciliate; blades
1-1.5 mm wide, flat or folded, with thick, scabrous, white margins; cauline
blades 1-2.5 cm; innovation blades to 6 cm. Panicle branches
6-15 cm; rachises ciliate. Spikelets 2.5-3.5 mm; lemmas 2-2.5
mm, keels pilose, margins densely pilose, hairs 0.2-1 mm. 2n = 24, 40.
Microchloa kunthii grows on granitic outcrops on rocky slopes. Its range
extends southward from Carr Canyon, Huachuca Mountains, Arizona and the Big Bend
region of Texas through Mexico to Guatemala.
FNA 2003, Kearney and Peebles 1969
Common Name: Kunth's smallgrass Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Graminoid General: Small, densely tufted perennial grass with slender, flattened stems 10-30 cm tall. Vegetative: Blades mostly basal, to 1 mm wide and 6 cm long, with thick, scabrous, white margins; sheaths generally shorter than the internodes; ligules 1-1.5 mm, ciliate. Inflorescence: Spikes solitary, very slender, curved, 3-8 cm long, consisting of a single flattened rachis with 2 rows of spikelets appressed to one side; spikelets 1-flowered, 3 mm long, with disarticulation above the glumes; glumes membranaceous, keeled, acute, nearly equal, awnless; lemmas shorter than glumes, hyaline, muticous, the keel and often the margins ciliate; paleas nearly as long as the lemmas. Ecology: Found on granitic outcrops on rocky slopes, around 5,500 ft (1676 m); flowers in the summer. Distribution: Ranges from the Huachucas in s. AZ , east to the Big Bend Region in TX, and south through MEX to Guatemala; also found in Africa, S. Amer. and Asia. Notes: Microchloa is a tropical-subtropical genus containing 3 African species in addition to M. kunthii, which is pan-tropical. This grass is rare in the Southwest, its range extending into the US only in extreme southern Arizona and near Big Bend. Look for low tufts of grass blades 6 cm tall, with taller curving spikes extending above. Ethnobotany: Unknown Etymology: Microchloa translates to small grass; kunthii honors Carl Sigismund Kunth (1788-1850) a German botanist remembered for his work in South America. Synonyms: Microchloa indica var. kunthii. Editor: LCrumbacher 2012, SBuckley 2014, AHazelton 2015