Plants annual. Culms (7)25-150 cm. Ligules 1.5-8 mm, acute; blades to 14 cm long, 1-8 mm wide, smooth, shining, sometimes revolute. Panicles (2)3-20 cm long, 0.6-1.5 cm wide, cylindrical, evidently branched below; branches to 2 cm, the spikelets borne singly, not clustered. Spikelets homogamous, all spikelets with a bisexual floret; florets (2)3; disarticulation above the glumes, below the sterile florets. Glumes 4.5-6.7 mm long, 0.9-1.1 mm wide, acuminate, keels not or only slightly winged, the keels, lateral veins, and adjacent surfaces scabrous; sterile florets (1)2, 1-1.6 mm, densely appressed-pubescent; bisexual florets 2.7-5.1 mm long, 1.2-1.6 mm wide, shiny, stramineous to gray-brown, mostly spreading-pubescent but the apices glabrous, strongly acuminate to beaked; anthers 0.7-2 mm. 2n = 14.
Phalaris lemmonii is native to California, but it has also
been found in Victoria, Australia. It grows in moist areas and appears
to hybridize with both Phalaris caroliniana and P.
angusta (Baldini 1995). The strongly beaked tips of the bisexual
florets are a useful distinguishing feature.
Crampton noted on one unusually small specimen (UTC 230918) that it
was the vernal pool ecotype of the species. He did not publish his observations.
Anderson (1961) and Baldini (1995) distinguished Phalaris lemmonii from P.
platensis Henrard ex Wacht., a narrowly distributed South
American taxon, arguing that it was slightly longer in the length of its
ligules, glumes, florets, and anthers, but many California specimens fall
within the range given for P. platensis rather than that for P.
lemmonii. Phalaris lemmonii is the older name so, if further
research shows that the two species should be combined, P. lemmonii will
remain the correct name for plants from the Flora region.