Piptochaetium avenaceum (L.) Parodi - Blackseed Needlegrass

Piptochaetium avenaceum plant

Family - Poaceae

Stems:

Piptochaetium avenaceum nodeNode of stem.

Piptochaetium avenaceum baseBase of plant.

Leaves:

Piptochaetium avenaceum leaf baseLeaf base.

Piptochaetium avenaceum liguleArrow shows ligule.

Inflorescence:

N/A

Flowers:

Piptochaetium avenaceum spikeletSpikelet close-up.

Piptochaetium avenaceum awnTwisted awn.

Flowering - April - June.

Habitat - Deciduous hardwood hammocks, thickets, dry woods.

Origin - Native to North America.

Other information - This grass can be found growing throughout most of Alabama. The plant can be identified by its open inflorescences and long spikelet awns. The inflorescence branches are very thin and cannot be seen from a distance. This creates the effect that the spikelets are just floating in mid air around the top of the flowering culm. The long awns of the spikelet are twisted upon close inspection and are typically perfectly straight (as shown above) or sometimes bent. The black seed of the fruit is another characteristic to look for.
The genus name Piptochaetium derives from the Greek "pipt(o)" meaning "Fall" and "chaet" meaning "long flowing hair" probably referring to the old leaves at the base of the plant that are long, spreading, and curly (see photo above).
The species epithet avenaceum is from the Latin "avena" meaning "oats."
A synonym for the species is Stipa avenacea L.

Alabama Distribution:

Piptochaetium avenaceum map

Photographs taken at Bibb County Glades, AL., 5-1-05.


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