Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for American Witchgrass - Dichanthelium columbianum   (Lamson-Scribner) Freckmann
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Members of Dichanthelium with account distribution info or public map:
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Author(Lamson-Scribner) Freckmann
DistributionScattered locations in the Piedmont, low Mountains, and Coastal Plain. The map is based only on specimens at UNC Chapel Hill annotated by LeBlond, and is incomplete. Specimens at other herbaria need to be checked for identification based on current concepts.

MEl, Ont. and WI, south to GA, TN, and IL.
AbundancePerhaps uncommon, but poorly known at present; the distribution map suggests that it likely occurs over all of the Piedmont, and sparingly into the other two provinces. The S3 State Rank as listed by NCNHP seems suitable for now.
HabitatDry open rocky slopes, open pine-oak woodlands, slopes near streams, powerlines. Habitats in NC are not well-known or well-defined at this time.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting June-October.
IdentificationThis species belongs to the D. portoricense/D. aciculare group of species. It is essential to use Weakley's (2018) key and treatment. One useful character is the relatively long ligule (0.7-1.5 mm), much longer than others of the group.
Taxonomic CommentsNone, other than named as Panicum columbianum 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)District of Columbia Witchgrass
State RankS3
Global RankG5T5 [G5]
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