Uniola virgata

Uniola virgata (Poir.) Griseb

Synonym: Leptochloopsis virgata

Common Names: Spike Grass

Family: Poaceae

Habit: Uniola virgata grows as a clumping perennial up to 90 in height. The leaves are arranged alternately, to 70 in length, with a sheath extending along the stem that is pubescent along its edge. At the point of divergence of the leaf sheath to the leaf blade is a small ciliate/fringed ligule. The leaves are stiff, parallel veined, and become coiled.

The zygomorphic flowers are arranged in terminal panicles that are up to 2 meters in height.  In the panicle there are 5-15 short branches. Each with numerous laterally compressed spikelet.  At the base of each spikelet are 2 yellow brown structures called glumes. In each spikelet there are 2-6 florets, each subtended by 2 additional structures (lemma and palea).  The lower flowers are sterile and the upper fertile and have 3 unfused stamens and a superior ovary each with a single locule and seed.  The fruit is a caryopsis.

Habitat: Uniola virgata grows in Dunes, Pinelands, and Dry Broadleaf Evergreen Formation – Shrulands (scrubland coppice).

Distribution: Uniola virgata occurs on the central and northern island groupings within the Lucayan Archipelago as well as the Greater Antilles and the Leeward Islands.

Medicinal/Cultural/Economic usage: Uniola virgata is not known to be used medicinally in the Lucayan Archipelago.