Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Tall Redtop - Tridens flavus   (L.) A.S. Hitchcock
Members of Poaceae:
Members of Tridens with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Order Cyperales » Family Poaceae
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Author(L.) A.S. Hitchcock
DistributionThroughout the state, including the Outer Banks/barrier islands. No doubt present in every county.

NH to NE, south to FL and TX.
AbundanceCommon throughout, except rare or uncommon on the Outer Banks. Oddly few collections from the northeastern counties, though seemingly still common in that region.
HabitatDry to mesic soil of forest and woodland openings, glades, barrens, fields, pastures, roadsides, powerlines. This is a very widespread species of dry and open habitats statewide, though not usually found in overly disturbed clearings.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting late July-October.
IdentificationTall Redtop stems grow 3-5 feet tall, with few leaves and an open inflorescence about a foot long. It is very similar to T. chapmanii, but that plant is more robust, the spikelets are darker and much browner (vs. reddish-purple in T. flavus), and the spikes are widely divergent from the inflorescence branches (vs. essentially appressed in T. flavus). The purplish or purplish-red color of the triangular-shaped inflorescence is a familiar sight in many openings and clearings.
Taxonomic CommentsNone. However, note that older references usually had T. chapmanii included within this species.

Other Common Name(s)Redtop -- the usual common name prior to the splitting out of T. chapmaniii, named here as Chapman's Redtop. Purpletop Tridens is the name most website use, but this website will not use a genus (i.e., Tridens) as a group common name if an alternate group name is available -- in this case Redtop.
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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B.A. SorrieRoadside, US 1, edge of pasture, Aug 2010. RichmondPhoto_natural
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