Roger Bull © Canadian Museum of Nature


This program involves the grasses and their relatives, a large and diverse group of flowering plants including several species of critical importance to humans, such as wheat, rice and corn. This collection-based work involves extensive field collections and is followed by laboratory studies and collections conservation. The results characterize the evolutionary history of this group from Canada and abroad. This research uses DNA techniques to clarify taxonomy, show relationships with other species and patterns of morphological change. The up-to-date information on plant biodiversity is critical for monitoring organism responses to environmental change.

Principal investigator: Jeff Saarela.

Additional Resources

A World-Wide Phylogenetic Classification of Poaceae (Gramineae)

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

Catalogue of New World Grasses (Poaceae)


Saarela, J.M. 2012. Taxonomic synopsis of invasive and native Spartina (Poaceae: Chloridoideae) in the Pacific Northwest (British Columbia, Washington and Oregon), including the first report of Spartina ×townsendii for British Columbia, Canada. Phytokeys, 10:25–82.

Saarela, J.M. and P.M. Peterson. 2012. Bromus. In B.G. Baldwin, S. Boyd, B.J. Ertter, R.W. Patterson, T.J. Rosatti and D.H. Wilken (eds.). The Second Edition of The Jepson Manual. University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles and London, pp. 1426–1431, 1435.

Peterson, P.M. and J.M. Saarela. 2012. Calamagrostis. In B.G. Baldwin, S. Boyd, B.J. Ertter, R.W. Patterson, T.J. Rosatti and D.H. Wilken (eds.). The Second Edition of The Jepson Manual. University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles and London, pp. 1431–1433, 1435.

Saarela, J.M., P.M. Peterson, M.S. Gonzalez Elizondo and D.J. Rosen. 2010. Eleocharis cryptica (Cyperaceae), a dwarf new species from Durango, Mexico. Brittonia, 62:233–238.

Saarela, J.M., Q. Liu, P.M. Peterson, R.J. Soreng and B. Paszko. 2010. Phylogenetics of the grass 'Aveneae-type plastid DNA clade' (Poaceae: Pooideae, Poeae) based on plastid and nuclear ribosomal DNA sequence data. In O. Seberg, G. Petersen, A. Barfod and J.I. Davis (eds.). Diversity, Phylogeny, and Evolution in the Monocotyledons. Aarhus University Press, Denmark, pp. 557–587.

Saarela, J.M. and S.W. Graham. 2010. Inference of phylogenetic relationships among the subfamilies of grasses (Poaceae: Poales) using meso-scale exemplar-based sampling of the plastid genome. Botany, 88:65–84.

Le Clerc-Blain, J., J.R. Starr, R.D. Bull and J.M. Saarela. 2010. A regional approach to
plant DNA barcoding provides high species resolution of sedges (Carex and Kobresia, Cyperaceae) in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Molecular Ecology Resources, 10:69–91.

Saarela, J.M. 2009. Taxonomy of Bromus sections Bromus, Bromopsis and Genea (Poaceae) in British Columbia: a summary, a key, new records, specimen citations, and miscellaneous notes. Botanical Electronic News, 415.

Howard, T.G., J.M. Saarela, B. Paszko, P.M. Peterson and D. Werier. 2009. New records and a taxonomic review of Calamagrostis perplexa (Poaceae: Poeae: Agrostidinae), a New York State endemic grass. Rhodora, 111:155–170.

Saarela, J.M., P.J. Prentis, H.S. Rai and S.W. Graham. 2008. Phylogenetic relationships in the monocot order Commelinales, with a focus on Philydraceae. Botany-Botanique, 86:719–731.

Saarela, J.M. 2008. Taxonomy of Bromus (Poaceae: Pooideae: Bromeae) sections Bromopsis, Bromus, and Genea in British Columbia, Canada. Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, 2:323–372.

Saarela, J.M., H.S. Rai, J.A. Doyle, P.K. Endress, S. Mathews, A.D. Marchant, B.G. Briggs and S.W. Graham. 2007. Hydatellaceae identified as a new branch near the base of the angiosperm phylogenetic tree. Nature, 446:312–5.

Saarela, J.M., P.M. Peterson, R.M. Keane, J. Cayouette and S.W. Graham. 2007. Molecular phylogenetics of Bromus (Poaceae: Pooideae) based on chloroplast and nuclear DNA sequence data. Aliso, 23:379–396.

Saarela, J.M., L. Lipsen, C.M. Sayre and J. Whitton. 2007. Vascular plant type specimens in the University of British Columbia herbarium (UBC). Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, 1:437–448.

Saarela, J.M. 2007. The North American flowering of the cultivated fountain bamboo, Fargesia nitida (Poaceae: Bambusoideae), in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Davidsonia, 18:43–55.

Saarela, J.M. and C.J. Sears. 2006. A new record of Zizania L. (wild rice) for British Columbia. Botanical Electronic News, 363.

Saarela, J.M., P.M. Peterson and N.F. Refulio Rodriguez. 2006. Bromus ayacuchensis (Poaceae: Pooideae: Bromeae), a new species from Peru, with a key to Bromus in Peru. Sida, 22:915–26.

Graham, S.W., J.M. Zgurski, M.A. McPherson, D.M. Cherniawsky, J.M. Saarela, E.F.C. Horne, S.Y. Smith, W.A. Wong, H.E. O'Brien, V.L. Biron, J.C. Pires, R.G. Olmstead, M.W. Chase and H.S. Rai. 2006. Robust inference of monocot deep phylogeny using an expanded multigene plastid data set. Aliso, 22:3–21.

Saarela, J.M., P.M. Peterson and J. Cayouette. 2005. Bromus hallii (Poaceae), a new combination for California, U.S.A., and taxonomic notes on Bromus orcuttianus and Bromus grandis. Sida, 21:1997–2013.

Saarela, J.M. 2005. Trisetum (Poaceae) in British Columbia. Botanical Electronic News, 351.

Saarela, J.M., P.M. Peterson, R.J. Soreng and R.E. Chapman. 2003. A taxonomic revision of the eastern North American and eastern Asian disjunct genus Brachyelytrum (Poaceae): Evidence from morphology, phytogeography and AFLPs. Systematic Botany, 28:674–692.

Saarela, J.M. and B.A. Ford. 2001. Taxonomy of the Carex backii complex (section Phyllostachyae, Cyperaceae). Systematic Botany, 26:704–721.