Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Spindle-fruit Witchgrass - Dichanthelium fusiforme   (A.S. Hitchcock) Harvill
Members of Poaceae:
Members of Dichanthelium with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Family Poaceae
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Author(A.S. Hitchcock) Harvill
DistributionCoastal Plain and Sandhills. The Outer Banks record is from Run Hill (Dare County).

Coastal Plain, southeastern VA to southern FL and MS; W.I., Mex., Venez.
AbundanceUncommon in the Sandhills and southern Coastal Plain; rare in the northeastern Coastal Plain. Absent from most of the northwestern and central Coastal Plain. The website editors suggest a State Rank of S2, considering the number of counties where recorded (11). This is a Significantly Rare species.
HabitatDry to xeric Longleaf Pine-oak-Wiregrass woodlands, sand ridges, sand barrens.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting May-November.
IdentificationThis species resembles D. aciculare and D. arenicoloides,, but is coarser, with broader leaves and longer spikelets (3.2-3.8 mm long vs. 1.8-3.1 mm long in those species). It can be confused with the autumnal phase of D. oligosanthes -- the spikelets are about the same shape and size -- but the ligule of the latter is longer (1.5-3 mm long vs. 0.5-1 mm long).
Taxonomic CommentsNone, other than being named as Panicum fusiforme 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)Needleleaf Rosette-grass
State RankS1 [S2]
Global RankG5?
State StatusSR-P
US Status
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