Nassella cernua - (Stebbins & A. Love) Barkworth
Nodding Needlegrass
Other Common Names: nodding needlegrass
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Nassella cernua (Stebbins & Love) Barkworth (TSN 507080)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.153549
Element Code: PMPOA4B030
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Grass Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Monocotyledoneae Cyperales Poaceae Nassella
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Nassella cernua
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G3G4
Global Status Last Reviewed: 20Aug2004
Global Status Last Changed: 20Aug2004
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: Nassella cernua is a grass known from only the United States and northern Baja California, Mexico. It is a member of native bunchgrass communities in California, that have been described as some of the most endangered ecosystem types in the United States. These native grasslands have been changed by non-native species, native to the Mediterranean area, since the mid-1700s. Nassella cernua, along with the grasslands, has declined because of the impacts of the non-native species. No direct information was found about the number of occurrences of this species that persist, but given the great decline of the grasslands it makes up, it is reasonable to assume that it too has declined significantly.
Nation: United States
National Status: N2N3

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States California (SNR), Hawaii (SNA)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: This species is known from the United States and Mexico. It's distribution, however, is restricted. In the United States it is only known from California (Kartesz 1999) and in Mexico, it is only known from northern Baja California, Mexico (Gould and Moran 1989).

Number of Occurrences: Unknown
Number of Occurrences Comments: It is unknown how many occurrences of this species there are. It is known from California and Mexico, but is highly degraded due to invasions of non-native species (Hamilton et al. 2002).

Overall Threat Impact Comments: While specific threats to this species were not found, it is part of rare Californian bunchgrass communtities that are threatened by non-native species, land clearing, farming, and extreme overgrazing (Hamilton et al. 2002). The following non-native species were identified by Hamilton et al. 2002 as greatly affecting the native bunchgrass communities, which presumably threaten N. cernua too: Bromus hordeaceous, Bromus diandrus, Avena fatua, and Avena barbata.

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-50%
Short-term Trend Comments: Nassella cernua is a member of rare bunchgrass communities in California that have been degraded due to non-native species (Hamilton et al. 2002). It is expected that these communitites are still threatened, and that N. cernua is declining due to non-native plant invasion.

Long-term Trend: Decline of 50-90%
Long-term Trend Comments: This grass species has undergone a long term decline. It is a main component of the California bunchgrass communities that are considered some of the rarest ecosystems in the United States. Nassella cernua along with Nassella pulchra are two native grass species that make up these bunchgrass communities. It is noted that since the time of the Spanish missions in the mid 1700s there have been enormous invasions of non-native grasses from the Mediterranean into California (Hamilton et al. 2002). The invasion of these non-native species has irrevocably changed the landscape to such a degree that the original extent of the bunchgrass communities is not known (Hamilton et al. 2002). Further, Hamilton et al. 2002 say that 80 to 100% of the cover of these communities is now comprised of non-native plant species.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: This species is known from the United States and Mexico. It's distribution, however, is restricted. In the United States it is only known from California (Kartesz 1999) and in Mexico, it is only known from northern Baja California, Mexico (Gould and Moran 1989).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States CA, HIexotic

Range Map
No map available.

Ecology & Life History Not yet assessed
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Basic Description: Nassella cernua, or Nodding Needle Grass, is defined by culms 60-90 cm. tall, in rather large clumps; basal blades numerous, narrow, glaucous, those on the culms are 1.2 to 2.4 mm wide; panicle is open with slender flexous branches; glumes acuminate the first 12-19 mm long, the second a little shorter; lemma 5 to 10.5 mm long, papillose, silky-pilose below and on the nerves, the callus acute, densely bearded; awn 6-11 cm long, the terminal segment flexuous (Hitchcock 1951).
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 23Sep2004
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Oliver, L.

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Gould, F.W., and R. Morgan. 1981. The grasses of Baja California, Mexico. San Diego Society of Natural History Memoir No. 12, San Diego, California. 140 pp.

  • Hamilton, J. G., J. R. Griffin, and M. R. Stromberg. 2002. Long-term population dynamics of native Nassella (Poaceae) bunchgrasses in central California. Madrono 49: 274-284.

  • Hitchcock, A.S. 1951. Manual of the grasses of the United States. 2nd edition revised by Agnes Chase. [Reprinted, 1971, in 2 vols., by Dover Publications, Incorporated, New York.]

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

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