Vulpia C.C. Gmel.

Vulpia is a relatively small genus of ca. 30 species. Most are native in Europe and the Mediterranean region. A few species are (probably) native in Belgium (Lambinon & al. 2004): Vulpia bromoides (L.) S.F. Gray and V. myuros (L.) C.C. Gmel. The exact residence status (native / archaeophyte / neophyte) of some other Belgian taxa is still unclear and probably requires additional studies. Some of the presumably native taxa – a fortiori those confined to coastal areas – are in fact fairly recent newcomers. Vulpia ciliata Dum. subsp. ambigua (Le Gall) Stace et Auquier (syn.: V. ambigua (Le Gall) More) was not recognized prior to Lambinon (1958), the first record dating back to 1912. Vulpia fasciculata (Forssk.) Fritsch (syn.: V. uniglumis (Ait.) Dum.) and V. membranacea (L.) Dum. (syn.: V. pyramidata (Link) Rothm., V. longiseta (Brot.) Hack.) – both already recorded in the 19th century in Wallonia (as casuals or the former perhaps as an extinct native; see Auquier 1972, 1977, 1978) – were recently re-discovered along the Belgian coast, possibly as a result of a natural range extension. Vulpia fasciculata was unknown from that area prior to 1977 (Auquier 1978), while V. membranacea remained unnoticed until 1979 (De Raeve 1986).

Glume length is usually considered to be an important character to distinguish between species of Vulpia. In fact, this character is often variable and apical spikelets tend to have longer lower glumes. Therefore, measurements should be taken on more than one spikelet and in the middle portion of the inflorescence.

Intergeneric hybrids with Festuca (xFestulpia) have been recorded on several occasions in Belgium (but no non-native species are concerned). Both genera are genetically closely similar and probably best united. The same applies to other segregates like Micropyrum (Soreng & al. 2015).

1. Anthers usually 3, 2-5 mm, exerted at anthesis === 2

1. Anthers 1-3, 0,3-2 mm, not exerted at anthesis === 3

2. Lower glume at least 1/3 as long as upper glume. Spikelets (excl. awns) less than 10 mm long === Vulpia geniculata

2. Lower glume less than 1/6 as long as upper glume. Spikelets (excl. awns) more than 10 mm long === V. alopecuros

3. Anthers usually 3. Upper glume awned, awn 2-20 mm long. Lemma callus pointed (native) === V. fasciculata and V. membranacea

3. Anthers usually 1. Upper glume unawned or with an awn less than 2 mm long. Lemma callus rounded === 4

4. Lower glume at least ½ as long as upper glume, usually longer than 2,5 mm. Inflorescence well-exerted from upper leaf sheath (native) === V. bromoides

4. Lower glume at most ½ as long as upper glume (1/12-1/2), usually less than 2,5 mm long. Inflorescence often long remaining inserted in the upper leaf sheath === 5

5. Lemmas glabrous or scabrous, not ciliate (native) === V. ciliata subsp. ambigua and V. myuros var. myuros

5. Lemmas (at least in part) ciliate === 6

6. Lower glume 0,2-1 mm long. Spikelets with 1-3 lowermost florets fertile, the 3-7 uppermost sterile. Rachilla internodes 0,4-0,9 mm long === V. ciliata subsp. ciliata

6. Lower glume (0,3-)1-2,5 mm long. Spikelets with all florets fertile except the 1-2 uppermost. Rachilla internodes 0,75-1,9 mm long === V. myuros var. megalura

Additional aliens: Vulpia antucensis Trin. (syn.: V. eriolepis (Desv.) C. Blom) (S-Am., wool alien), V. ligustica (All.) Link (Medit., vector unknown) and V. octoflora (Walter) Rydberg (Am., vector unknown).



Auquier P. (1972) Vulpia longiseta (Brot.) Hack. en Belgique. Bull. Jard. Bot. Belg. 42: 289-293.

Auquier P. (1977) Le genre Vulpia C.C. Gmel. (Poaceae) en Belgique. Bull. Jard. Bot. Nat. Belg. 47: 117-137.

Auquier P. (1978) Découverte de Vulpia fasciculata (Forsk.) Samp. (Poaceae) sur le littoral belge. Dumortiera 9: 19-20.

Auquier P. (1980) Het geslacht Vulpia C.C. Gmel. in Nederland. Gorteria 10: 9-14.

Auquier P. & Stace C.A. (1980) Variation in flowering behaviour in Vulpia (Poaceae). Pl. Syst. Evol. 136(1-2): 47-52.

Cotton R. & Stace C.A. (1967) Taxonomy of the genus Vulpia (Gramineae): I. Chromosome numbers and geographical distribution of the Old World species. Genetica 46:235-255.

Cotton R. & Stace C.A. (1977) Morphological and anatomical variation of Vulpia (Gramineae). Bot. Not. 130: 173-187.

De Raeve F. (1986) Vulpia fasciculata (Forssk.) Fritsch et Vulpia pyramidata (Link) Rothm.: quelques observations sur les stations littorales belges. Soc. Ech. Pl. Vasc. Eur. Bass. Médit., Bull. 21: 87-92.

Faramarzi A., Saeidi H. & Rahiminejad M.R. (2012) A taxonomic revision of the genus Vulpia C. C. Gmel. (Poaceae, Poeae) in Iran. Iranian Journal of Botany 18(2): 199-206. [available online at:]

Jauzein P. (1995) Flore des champs cultivés. INRA, Paris: 898 p.

Lambinon J., Delvosalle L., Duvigneaud J. (avec coll. Geerinck D., Lebeau J., Schumacker R. & Vannerom H. (2004) Nouvelle Flore de la Belgique, du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, du Nord de la France et des Régions voisines (Ptéridophytes et Spermatophytes). Cinquième édition. Jardin botanique national de Belgique, Meise: CXXX + 1167 p.

Lonard R.I. (2007) Vulpia. In: Barkworth M.E. & al. (eds.), Flora of North America north of Mexico, vol. 24: 448-454. Oxford University Press, New York-Oxford.

Lonard R.I. & Gould F.W. (1974) The North American species of Vulpia (Gramineae). Madroño 22: 217-230.

Parodi L.R. (1956) Las especies de Gramineas del Género "Vulpia" de la Argentina y paises limitrofes. Revista Argent. Agron. 23: 71-94.

Paunero E. (1964) Notas sobre gramíneas, 2. Consideraciones acerca de las especies Espanolas del género Vulpia Gmel. Anales Inst. Bot. Cavanilles 22: 81-114.

Soreng R.J., Peterson P.M., Romaschenko K., Davidse G., Zuloaga F.O., Judziewicz E.J., Filgueiras T.S., Davis J.I. & Morrone O. (2015) A worldwide phylogenetic classification of the Poaceae (Gramineae). Journal of Systematics and Evolution 53: 117-137. [available online at:

Stace C.A. & Cotton R. (1980) Vulpia. In: Tutin T.G. & al. (eds.), Flora Europaea, vol. 5. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 154-156.

Torrecilla P., Lopez Rodriguez J.A. & Catalan P. (2004) Phylogenetic relationships of Vulpia and related genera (Poeae, Poaceae) based on analysis of ITS and trnL-F sequences. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 91(1): 125-158.

Wolff P. (1978) Die Merkmale der häufigsten Vulpia-Sippen Mitteleuropas. Göttinger Florist. Rundbr. 12: 41-60.

Taxonomic name: 
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith