Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Prairie Dropseed - Sporobolus heterolepis   (A. Gray) A. Gray
Members of Poaceae:
Members of Sporobolus with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Order Cyperales » Family Poaceae
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Author(A. Gray) A. Gray
DistributionSouthwestern Mountains only. Known from 2 locations: Clay County (Buck Creek Serpentine Barrens) and Jackson County (Webster Serpentine Barrens), where extant at both sites. A specimen at WCUH was purportedly collected in Graham County, but in fact it was in Clay County.

Que to Sask., south to NC, GA, OK, and NM.
AbundanceVery rare, with only 2 sites known. Thankfully, the Clay County population is large. This is a State Threatened species.
HabitatDry ultramafic soil of Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida) or Virginia Pine (P. virginiana) barrens. These are essentially the only known ultramafic barrens in the state, and thus this is an extremely limited habitat.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting August-September.
IdentificationPrairie Dropseed is a clump-forming perennial bunchgrass, with many arching leaves up to a foot long. Flowering stems stand rather erect, 1-2.5 feet tall, with an open, airy inflorescence. It may resemble Muhlenbergia capillaris, but that species has a distinctly pink or red-purplish inflorescence (vs. straw-color or light brownish in S. heterolepis).
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Recent molecular research suggests that Calamovilfa and Spartina are nested deeply within Sporobolus. Weakley (2020) proposes that they remain split until a long-term solution is found, as their members are monophyletic.
Other Common Name(s)None
State RankS1
Global RankG5
State StatusT
US Status
USACE-agcpUPL link
USACE-empUPL link
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
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B.A. SorriePrairie in IA Photo_non_NCPhoto_non_NC
B.A. SorriePhoto taken 2000 in a prairie in IA. Photo_non_NCPhoto_non_NC
B.A. SorrieClay County, 2021, Buck Creek Serpentine Barrens. ClayPhoto_natural
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