Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Coastal Plain Witchgrass - Dichanthelium longiligulatum   (Nash) Freckmann
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Section 5 » Order Cyperales » Family Poaceae
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Author(Nash) Freckmann
DistributionCoastal Plain, absent from the Sandhills proper. One specimen from Graham County in the southern Mountains. We have relied on specimen annotations by LeBlond. Records from Durham and Orange counties are suspect as to ID. Specimens from Stokes and Guilford counties probably are D. acuminatum var. fasciculatum or var. lindheimeri.

Coastal Plain, NJ to FL and TX; disjunct to western NC and central TN. Central America.
AbundanceUncommon to infrequent, except very rare in the Mountains.
HabitatLongleaf Pine savannas and flatwoods, clay-based Carolina bays. The Graham County specimen is from a freshwater marsh near the Cheoah River.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting May-September.
IdentificationFrom its relatives in the D. acuminatum complex, this species can be separated by glabrous or glabrate lower leaf sheaths and lower culms (vs. variously hairy in other species in the complex). From the very similar D. spretum, it is told by a more open inflorescence (vs. rather tight) -- not always clearcut to see.
Taxonomic CommentsIn some texts treated as a variety or subspecies of D. acuminatum.

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)Coastal Plain Panicgrass
State RankS3? [S3S4]
Global RankG4G5Q
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