Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Roundseed Witchgrass - Dichanthelium sphaerocarpon   (Elliott) 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(Elliott) Gould
DistributionThroughout the state, including the Outer Banks.

VT to KS, south to FL and TX; Mex.
AbundanceFrequent to locally common.
HabitatDry to seasonally moist sandy or clayey soils of pine and pine-oak woodlands, mixed forest openings, clearings, fields, meadows, roadsides.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting May-October.
IdentificationThe common name is not helpful, as the spikelets are not particularly round. More helpful is the overall gestalt: a well-developed basal rosette, a slender stem up to 1.5 feet tall, only 3-4 stem leaves, and a generally triangular inflorescence (more than half as wide as long). The related species D. polyanthes has a disinctly narrower and longer inflorescence; see that account for more differences.
Taxonomic CommentsNone, other than named as Panicum sphaerocarpon 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 et al. (2023), 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)Roundfruit Witchgrass, Roundseed Panicum
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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