Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Starved Witchgrass - Dichanthelium depauperatum   (Muhlenberg) Gould
Members of Poaceae:
Members of Dichanthelium with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Order Cyperales » Family Poaceae
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Author(Muhlenberg) Gould
DistributionMountains, Piedmont, and northwestern Coastal Plain; scarce in the Sandhills proper.

Newf. to MN south to GA and TX.
AbundanceFrequent to common, except absent from most of the Coastal Plain; infrequent in the northwestern Coastal Plain. This is clearly an S5 species.
HabitatDry soils of woodland and forest openings, rock outcrops, fields, trails, roadsides, powerlines, railroad margins.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting May-September.
IdentificationThis is one of the few witchgrasses that does not produce an obvious rosette of leaves at ground level. Rather, all leaves are alike and in this case erect to strongly ascending, long, and linear. The lower leaves are much more numerous than upper ones. From D. linearifolium, it is best told by the longer spikelets (3.2-4.3 mm long vs. 2.0-3.2 mm long in that species).
Taxonomic CommentsNone, other than being named as Panicum depauperatum in older references.

A note about Dichanthelium: This genus is not impossible to identify to species! But it takes applied effort over a period of time in order to learn the various species and what their morphological limits are. We strongly recommend that you read the introduction to the treatment in Weakley (2018), written by Richard LeBlond. LeBlond has made order out of near chaos, and his keys work very well for our plants. Most Dichanthelium taxa ("Dichs") do not grow everywhere indiscrimminately, but prefer certain well-defined habitats. Note that most species produce flowers/fruits twice a year -- a vernal period and an autumnal period -- and that measurements of spikelets and achenes are taken from vernal plants. Some species also have a third, or summer, period. In the vernal period there is a single inflorescence at the tip of the stem. In the autumnal period, plants produce elongate branches with bunched (congested) leaves and so look quite different from vernal plants. Inflorescences are produced in leaf axils as well as at the tips of branches. NOTE: Older texts had these species essentially all within the very large genus Panicum. "Dich" species are typically named as "Witchgrass" and Panicum species named as "Panicgrass".
Other Common Name(s)Starved Panicgrass, Starved Rosette-panicgrass
State RankS4 [S5]
Global RankG5
State Status
US Status
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Photo Gallery
B.A. SorrieAnother disturbed roadside, May 2015. MoorePhoto_natural
B.A. SorrieDisturbed roadside, Piedmont, April 2010. MoorePhoto_natural

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