Luzula acuminata (Hairy Woodrush)
|Also known as:||Pointed Woodrush, Clustered Woodrush|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; average to moist soil; rich woods, forest clearings, ravines, streambanks|
|Bloom season:||May - June|
|Plant height:||4 to 16 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FAC MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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5 to 20 flowers, single at the tips of slender stalks, radiating in a rounded cluster from the tip of the stem. Occasionally a stalk branches near the base of a flower. Flowers are ¼ to 1/3 inch across, have 6 tepals (petals and similar sepals) all similar in size and shape, lance to narrowly triangular, tapering to a pointed tip, green to yellowish to dark brown. In the center is a single style with 3 feathery stigmas and 6 pale yellow-tipped stamens about as long as the style. At the base of a flower is a pair of scale-like bracts half or less as long as the tepals. Flower stalks are hairless and up to 1½ inch long. At the base of the cluster are a pair of leaf-like bracts that are half or so as long as the longest flower stalk.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are grass-like, basal and alternate, the basal leaves 2 to 12 inches long, up to ½ inch wide, pointed at the tip, stalkless and reddish at the base. Leaves are toothless but edged in long, white hairs.
Stem leaves number 2 to 4, are widely spaced, erect, 1 to 4 inches long, up to ¼ inch wide, sheath the stem and are also edged with long, white hairs that may shed with age. Stems are smooth, erect, unbranched, single but with short, horizontal stems (stolons), forming loose clumps and colonies.
Fruit is a 3-sided, green to yellowish, oval to egg-shaped capsule 3.2 to 4.7 mm long, about as along as or slightly longer than the tepals, each with 3 seeds, 1 to 1.5 mm long, egg-shaped with a whitish, curved appendage at the tip.
Hairy Woodrush reaches the western edge of its US range in Minnesota. It's a common species of woodlands and forests in the northern half of the state, blooming in early spring. Hairy Woodrush is fairly easy to ID with its leaves fringed in long, white hairs (common for Luzula species) and radiating cluster of relatively long-stalked, 6-parted flowers, replaced by oval capsules in late spring. Of the other Luzula species in Minnesota, Common Woodrush (Luzula multiflora) and Oak-forest Woodrush (Luzula luzuloides) have clusters of multiple flowers at the tip of each stalk where Hairy Woodrush flowers are single. Small-flowered Woodrush (Luzula parviflora) also has single flowers, but is a much taller plant with a branching cluster of drooping flowers. There are 2 recognized varieties of L. acuminata: var. carolinae, a southern species with branching flower clusters, and var. acuminata, which seldom branches, found in Minnesota.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Banning State Park, Pine County, and in Roseau County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Carlton and Pine counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?