Erianthus alopecuroides

From Coastal Plain Plants Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Erianthus alopecuroides
Eria alop.jpg
Saccharum alopecuroidum (synonym shown); Photo by James H. Miller & Ted Bodner, Southern Weed Science Society,
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
Order: Cyperales
Family: Poaceae ⁄ Gramineae
Genus: Erianthus
Species: E. alopecuroides
Binomial name
Erianthus alopecuroides
(L.) Nutt.
SACC ALOP dist.jpg
Natural range of Erianthus alopecuroides from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common name: Silver plumegrass

Taxonomic notes

Synonyms: Saccharum alopecuroides (Linnaeus) Nuttall; Saccharum alopecuroideum (Linnaeus) Nuttall; Saccharum alopecuroidum; Erianthus divaricatus (Linnaeus) A.S. Hitchcock.[1]

Varieties: none.[1]


Erianthus are "coarse perennials from hardened bases or short rhizomes; culms usually purplish, nodes usually, glabrous or upper appressed pubescent, internodes usually glabrous. Leaves primarily cauline; blades scaberulous, usually densely long hirsute above ligule; sheaths usually glabrous; ligules membranous, ciliate, 1-4 mm long; collars long-hirsute. Panicle solitary, terminal, ovoid to ellipsoid. Racemes numerous, most ascending, joints and pedicels subequal, 2-6 mm long, scaberulous or villous. Spikelets in pairs, fertile, sessile and pedicellate, yellowish to purplish, ovoid. Glumes cartilaginous, acuminate, subequal; lemmas and paleas hyaline to purplish, shorter than glumes; callus usually bearded. Grain reddish, ellipsoid, 2-3.5 mm long."[2]

Specifically, Erianthus alopecuroides have "culms to 3 m tall. Blades to 7.5 dm long and 3 cm wide. Panicle whitish to tawny, 1.5-3 dm long, 5-12 cm broad; rachis long villous. Spikelets villous, 6-8 mm long, awns twisted, flat, 10-16 mm long; callus beard exceeding spikelet. Grain 2.5 mm long."[2]


E. alopecuroides is generally distributed from New Jersey west to Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and Oklahoma south to Florida and Texas.[3]



This species grows in roadsides, fields, and woodland borders.[3] In the Coastal Plain in Florida and Georgia, E. alopecuroides can be found in longleaf pine forests, annually burned pinelands, fallow quail food patches, frequently burned mature longleaf pine-wiregrass communities, bordering wild plum thickets, pine-oak-hickory woods, mixed hardwood forests, and mesic woodlands. It can also be found along roadsides, cutover pineland clayhills, and powerline corridors. Soils include sandy loam, clayey soil, and loamy sand.[4] It is considered to be a characteristic species of the shortleaf pine-oak-hickory community in the Red Hills region of northern Florida and southern Georgia.[5] Also in the Red Hills region, this species was found as a dominant plant species of old field sites rather than native groundcover sites.[6]

Associated species include Andropogon sp., Pinus palustris, Aristida sp., Quercus sp., and others.[4]


This species generally flowers in October.[3] It has been observed to flower and fruit from September through November.[4][7]

Fire ecology

E. alopecuroides has been observed to grow in annually burned pinelands[4] such as those on the Pebble Hill plantation in north Florida where populations have been known to persist through repeated annual burns.[8]

Herbivory and toxicology

E. alopecuroides consists of approximately 2-5% of the diet for various terrestrial birds.[9]

Conservation, cultivation, and restoration

E. alopecuroides is listed as presumed extirpated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Natural Areas and Preserves.[10] For management using herbicides, a study in Baker county Georgia examined ten ground cover plants, including E. alopecuroides, that were common to the ecosystem. This species was found to be susceptible to the following herbicides: atrazine, imazapic, hexazinone, butyric acid, fluazifop-p-butyl, and triclopyr. This species was found to overall increase in response to the following herbicides: aminopyralid, imazapyr, and sulfometuron methyl.[11]

Cultural use

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Weakley, A.S. 2015. Flora of the southern and mid-atlantic states. Working Draft of 21 May 2015. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Radford, Albert E., Harry E. Ahles, and C. Ritchie Bell. Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. 1964, 1968. The University of North Carolina Press. 160-1. Print.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Weakley, A. S. (2015). Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States. Chapel Hill, NC, University of North Carolina Herbarium.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Florida State University Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium database. URL: Last accessed: July 2015. Collectors: R. A. Norris, D. E. Powell, Robert K. Godfrey, Roy Komarek, Loran C. Anderson, Richard S. Mitchell, Andre F. Clewell, Travis MacClendon, B. Boothe, M. Boothe, K. MacClendon, Cindi Stewart, Annie Schmidt. States and Counties: Florida: Calhoun, Gadsden, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Okaloosa, Wakulla. Georgia: Thomas. Compiled by Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.
  5. Clewell, A. F. (2013). "Prior prevalence of shortleaf pine-oak-hickory woodlands in the Tallahassee red hills." Castanea 78(4): 266-276.
  6. Ostertag, T. E. and K. M. Robertson (2007). A comparison of native versus old-field vegetation in upland pinelands managed with frequent fire, south Georgia, USA. Proceedings of the 23rd Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference: Fire in Grassland and Shrubland Ecosystems, Tallahassee, Tall Timbers Research Station.
  7. Nelson, G. PanFlora: Plant data for the eastern United States with emphasis on the Southeastern Coastal Plains, Florida, and the Florida Panhandle. Accessed: 8 MAY 2019
  8. Robertson, K.M. Unpublished data collected from Pebble Hill Fire Plots, Pebble Hill Plantation, Thomasville, Georgia.
  9. Miller, J.H., and K.V. Miller. 1999. Forest plants of the southeast and their wildlife uses. Southern Weed Science Society.
  10. USDA, NRCS. (2016). The PLANTS Database (, 8 May 2019). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.
  11. Kaeser, M. J. and L. K. Kirkman (2010). "The effects of pre- and post-emergent herbicides on non-target native plant species of the longleaf pine ecosystem." Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 137(4): 420-430.