Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Thin Paspalum - Paspalum setaceum var. ciliatifolium   (Michaux) Vasey
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Section 5 » Family Poaceae
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Author(Michaux) Vasey
DistributionLower Piedmont, Sandhills, Coastal Plain, and Outer Banks; scattered records westward.

NJ to KS, south to FL and TX.
AbundanceFrequent in the Coastal Plain and lower Piedmont; rare in the upper Piedmont and Mountains.
HabitatDry hardwood-pine woodlands, Longleaf Pine-oak woodlands and savannas, woodland openings, clearings, roadsides, powerlines.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting June-September.
IdentificationPlants in the P. setaceum group usually grow 1.5-2.5 feet tall, with several well-spaced stem leaves and several +- crowded basal leaves. This variety features +- hairless leaf surfaces, but distinctly pilose margins. It is the most widespread variety in NC and the one most likely to be encountered.
Taxonomic CommentsPaspalum is a genus of more than 300 species, found mostly in the New World. The genus is quite easily identified by the neat row of spikelets along each side of a flattened rachis (inflorescence branch), and also by the hemispherical outline of each spikelet. In some species there are only 2 such inflorescence branches, paired at the stem summit; in most of our species there are 3-4 branches; and in a few there may be many. Keys ask whether spikelets are paired or not -- that is, at each node on each side of the rachis there are pairs of spikelets on tiny stalklets. Care must be taken with a hand lens to make sure there are 2 stalklets at each node, as frequently one of the two spikelets will not grow. Non-paired or single spikelets will clearly have only a single stalklet per node.
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Global RankG5T5
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B.A. SorrieSandhills Game Land, dam of Kinney Cameron Lake, June 2015. ScotlandPhoto_natural

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