Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Sandy Woods Witchgrass - Dichanthelium arenicoloides   (Ashe) LeBlond
Members of Poaceae:
Members of Dichanthelium with account distribution info or public map:
Google Images
Section 5 » Family Poaceae
Author(Ashe) LeBlond
DistributionSouthern middle Coastal Plain and easternmost Piedmont; outer Coastal Plain and Outer Banks. Records are from specimens annotated by LeBlond (NCU) and those annotated by Blomquist (DUKE, GH). Very likely to occur elsewhere in the region, as it is not well known by botanists. 3 specimens from Clay County (herbarium NCU) look aberrant and need to be double-checked for ID.

Coastal Plain, NC to FL, TX, and AR; Latin America.
AbundanceProbably uncommon, but not well known; the website editors suggest a rank of S3?. It likely is not scarce enough to be named as a Watch List species.
HabitatXeric stabilized or semi-stabilized dunes, maritime dry grasslands, xeric sandy soils inland on old river deposits or near a lake (Lake Waccamaw). Clearly a species of sandy soil, mostly near the coast.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting May-November.
IdentificationIn general it resembles D. aciculare, but the elongate spikelets (2.1-2.8 mm long vs. 1.7-2.3 mm long) will separate it from that more widespread species. Plants found on the Outer Banks in 2012-13 had all stems flat on the ground in a radial pattern.
Taxonomic CommentsSince its description by W.W. Ashe, it has been overlooked by virtually all authors.

A note about Dichanthelium: This genus is not impossible to identify to species! But it takes applied effort over a period of time in order to learn the various species and what their morphological limits are. We strongly recommend that you read the introduction to the treatment in Weakley et al. (2023), written by Richard LeBlond. LeBlond has made order out of near chaos, and his keys work very well for our plants. Most Dichanthelium taxa ("Dichs") do not grow everywhere indiscrimminately, but prefer certain well-defined habitats. Note that most species produce flowers/fruits twice a year -- a vernal period and an autumnal period -- and that measurements of spikelets and achenes are taken from vernal plants. Some species also have a third, or summer, period. In the vernal period there is a single inflorescence at the tip of the stem. In the autumnal period, plants produce elongate branches with bunched (congested) leaves and so look quite different from vernal plants. Inflorescences are produced in leaf axils as well as at the tips of branches. NOTE: Older texts had these species essentially all within the very large genus Panicum. "Dich" species are typically named as "Witchgrass" and Panicum species named as "Panicgrass".
Other Common Name(s)None
State Rank[S3?]
Global RankGNR
State Status
US Status
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
Photo Gallery
B.A. SorrieWright Brothers Memorial, Sept 2012. DareBIUPhoto_natural
Select a source
Select an occurrence type