Cinna latifolia (Drooping Woodreed)

Plant Info
Also known as: Slender Woodreed, Sweet Reed Grass
Family:Poaceae (Grass)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade, sun; moist to wet; swamps, bogs, wet forest, shores, stream banks, seeps
Fruiting season:August - October
Plant height:2 to 6 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: OBL MW: FACW NCNE: FACW
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: indistinct Cluster type: panicle

[photo of panicles] A panicle at the tip of the stem 3 to 18+ inches long, usually nodding to one side with droopy branches; sometimes the lowest branches are partially enclosed in the uppermost leaf sheath but usually not. Spikelets (flower clusters) are overlapping on the tip half or so of a branch, lance-elliptic in outline, somewhat compressed, 2.5 to 4 mm (to 1/6 inch) long, light green with a single floret.

[close-up of panicle branch] At the base of a spikelet is a pair of bracts (glumes), both awnless, keeled, 1-veined, rough-textured along the keel with hair-like teeth, light green with thin whitish edging, pointed at the tip, 2.5 to 4 mm long, the lower glume as long as or slightly shorter than the upper glume. Florets are surrounded by a pair of bracts (lemma and palea), the lemma 3-veined, more or less as long as the upper glume, pointed at the tip, keeled with a straight awn .1 to 2.5 mm long that arises from just below the lemma tip; the palea is slightly shorter than the lemma and 1 or 2-veined. The floret is on a short stalk (rachilla) that extends up to 1.3 mm above the base of the palea, though the extension is sometimes absent.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are alternate, number 4 to 7 and evenly spaced along the stem, 1 to 20 mm (to ¾+ inch) wide, 6 to 11 inches long, hairless, rough on both surfaces and along the edges, flat, and sometimes twisted near the base so the underside faces up but usually not.

[photo of ligule and node] The sheath is hairless. The ligule (membrane where the leaf joins the sheath) is 1.5 to 8 mm long, fragile and usually shredded, lacks a fringe of hairs and is whitish or slightly tinged brown. Nodes are smooth. Stems are unbranched, hairless, mostly erect, single or a few from the base forming loose clumps.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of immature spikelets] Spikelets turn light brown at maturity, the entire spikelet dropping off leaving the naked stalks behind on the branch. Grains are 1.8 to 2.8 mm long.


Drooping Woodreed is an occasional to common grass primarily found in wet forested habitats in the northern half of the state, occasionally in more open or mesic sites. Cinna grasses are distinguished by their single-flowered spikelets with only 1 stamen (most grasses have 3), spikelets dropping off below the glumes when mature; awnless glumes; hairless lemmas with a very short awn arising from just below the tip; paleas nearly as long as the lemmas. Cinna is considered a cool-season grass but does not flower until mid to late summer into fall.

Cinna latifolia is further distinguished by spikelets 2.5 to 4 mm long; both glumes 1-veined; 4 to 7 stem leaves to 11 inches long, 6 to 20 mm (average ½ to 2/3 inch) wide, sometimes twisted near the base so the underside faces up but usually not; panicle nodding to one side with droopy branches; ligule up to 8 mm long, usually shredded and whitish. It is most similar to the related Sweet Woodreed (Cinna arundinacea), which is present primarily in the southern half of Minnesota, and is a more stout plant with more leaves (5 to 10) that are usually twisted near the base, larger spikelets (4 to 6 mm), the upper glume is 3-veined, ligules are more strongly tinged brown, and the base of the stem is thickened and bulbous.

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More photos

Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka and Lake counties.


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