Melica* Sp. Pl. 66 (1753).
Derivation:. Melica: an ancient Italian name for a sorghum.
Key references (keys and floras):. D.Sharp and B.K.Simon, AusGrass (2002); J.P.Jessop, Grasses of South Australia 179–180 (2006); A.Wilson (ed.), Flora of Australia 44A: Poaceae 2: 71 (2009).
W.D.Clayton & S.A.Renvoize, Genera Graminum (1986), genus (160).
80 species, from temperate regions. 1 species in Australia, SA.
Habit. Perennial. Ligule an unfringed membrane to a fringed membrane or a fringe of hairs. Plants bisexual, with bisexual spikelets.
Inflorescence. Inflorescence a single raceme or paniculate, not a compound pseudo-inflorescence.
Spikelets. Fertile spikelets laterally compressed to subterete, disarticulating above glumes or falling with glumes.
Glumes. Glumes two, relatively large, unequal to more or less equal, shorter than spikelet or about equal to spikelet (usually), pointed or blunt, awnless, non-keeled, dissimilar (the lower sometimes greatly enlarged) or similar (often coloured, papery, thin-tipped). Lower glume 1–7 nerved.
Florets. Fertile florets 1–7. Lemmas similar in texture to glumes to decidedly firmer than glumes (usually leathery, sometimes membranous), entire at apex or incised, when entire pointed or blunt, muticous or mucronate or awned. Awns from a sinus or apical, non-geniculate, straight, hairless, much shorter than body of lemma to about as long as body of lemma. Palea relatively long or conspicuous and relatively short or very reduced, entire or apically notched, thinner than lemma, 2 nerved, 2 keeled. Lodicules 2. Stigmas 2. Grain longitudinally grooved, compressed dorsiventrally or terete. Hilum long-linear. Pericarp thick and hard. Embryo small. Endosperm hard.
2n = 14 (rarely) or 18 or 36, 2 and 4 ploid.
Classification. Pooideae; Meliceae.
Notes. A very varaible genus, divisible into 2 subgenera. It is usually easy to recognise by its papery glumes and unusual disarticulation (Clayton & Renvoize, 1986).
Types Species. M. nutans L.
Biogeographic Element. Clifford & Simon 1981, Simon & Jacobs 1990: Naturalised.