Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Early Crowngrass - Paspalum praecox   Walter
Members of Paspalum with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Order Cyperales » Family Poaceae
AuthorWalter
DistributionSouthern and eastern Coastal Plain and Sandhills; rare on the Outer Banks. Absent from the northwestern portions of the Coastal Plain.

Southeastern VA to southern FL and eastern TX.
AbundanceUncommon throughout, except rare on the Outer Banks. This is a Watch List species, though there are enough counties of occurrence that the editors suggest the State Rank of S3 instead of S2S3.
HabitatMoist to wet soils of pine savannas and flatwoods, pitcher-plant seepages, blackwater streamhead ecotones, maritime wet grasslands. Well-adapted to recurring fires.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting May-July (??). RAB (1968) and Weakley (2018) indicate a different flowering period for var. curtisianum of June-October. Specimens need to be checked to verify these data.
IdentificationThis handsome, perennial grass grows mostly 2-3 feet tall, with pallid green or yellow-green spikelets. Note the specialized habitats -- generally in acidic wetland soils.
Taxonomic CommentsSome authors, such as FNA, Blomquist (1948), and Weakley et al. (2012, Flora of Virginia) lump both varieties, due to very similar habitats and range. Weakley (2018), however, lists two varieties in NC -- curtisianum and praecox.

Paspalum 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.
Other Common Name(s)Early Paspalum. Most references use "Paspalum" as the group name, but this website prefers not to use genus names, if at all possible, when there is an alternate name; Weakley (2018) uses Crowngrass.
State RankS2S3 [S3]
Global RankG4
State StatusW1
US Status
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