Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Eastern Gamagrass - Tripsacum dactyloides   (L.) L.
Members of Poaceae:
Only member of Tripsacum in NC.
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Section 5 » Order Cyperales » Family Poaceae
Author(L.) L.
DistributionThroughout the state, but less frequent in the Mountains.

Southeastern MA to MI and NE, south to southern FL and northern Mex.
AbundanceFrequent to common in most of the Piedmont and Coastal Plain, except uncommon in the Mountains. Where found, plants may be locally abundant. With specimen records for 71 counties, the species clearly has an S5 rank, not S4 as assigned by the NCNHP.
HabitatWet meadows, river margins, margins of brackish marshes, wet to moist roadsides, along railroads. The true natural habitats in NC are poorly known, though it tends to be somewhat of an edge species as opposed to growing in wide open places or in full shade.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting June-October.
IdentificationThis coarse grass is easy to identify. It grows in patches or clones from tough, knotty rhizomes, sending up clusters of leaves mostly 2-3 feet long and 10-35 mm wide. Each leaf has a pale yellowish midrib. The flowering stems routinely reach 4-6 feet tall, topped by an inflorescence 6 inches to a foot long. Male spikes sit atop female spikes and drop off soon after pollination. Female spikes are rather cylindrical, with a constriction between each spikelet; they look like a stack of short cylinders. When they are fully mature, you can easily snap off a spikelet from the one below it, if you are inclined to "play with" plants.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Gamagrass (sometimes incorrectly spelled as Gammagrass), Sesame Grass
State RankS4 [S5]
Global RankG5
State Status
US Status
USACE-agcpFAC link
USACE-empFACW link
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