Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Southern Wild-rice - Zizaniopsis miliacea   (Michaux) Doell & Ascherson
Members of Poaceae:
Only member of Zizaniopsis in NC.
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Section 5 » Order Cyperales » Family Poaceae
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Author(Michaux) Doell & Ascherson
DistributionCoastal Plain and lower Piedmont. Absent from the Sandhills proper. The gap in the central and southern Coastal Plain appears to be real.

VA to southern IL and OK, south to southern FL and southern TX; disjunct to central Mex.
AbundanceFrequent in the northern Coastal Plain, uncommon elsewhere. Increasing inland in recent years, and seems to be spreading around artificial lake and pond margins. Locally it may be a dominant.
HabitatShores, backwaters, and rocky riffles of brownwater rivers in the lower Piedmont, usually downstream from dams. On the Coastal Plain, fresh and fresh-tidal marshes of blackwater and brownwater rivers and streams. Now starting to appear along the margins of man-made ponds and impoundments. This species is so dominant on some islands in the Pee Dee River along the Anson/Richmond county line that the name of "Grassy Islands" refer to this grass.
See also Habitat Account for General Cattail and Tall Grass Marshes
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting May-July.
IdentificationSouthern Wild-rice looks superficially like Annual Wild-rice (Zizania aquatica). Both are robust and often exceed 6 feet tall. Southern Wild-rice has very thick (up to 1.5 cm) rhizomes, and the rather conical/triangular inflorescence often exceeds 2 feet long. The florets have much shorter awns (less than 9 mm long vs. up to 10 cm long in Zizania).
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Most references now use the name of Giant Cutgrass, though "cutgrass" is the group common name for the Leersia species. Thus, it seems better to continue to use the alternative name of Southern Wild-rice, as both Zizania and Zizaniopsis have traditionally been named as "wild-rice" species.
State RankS3? [S3S4]
Global RankG5
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B.A. SorrieRocky River at Deep River, May 2021. ChathamPhoto_natural

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