Saturday, September 12, 2020

Bewitched by Witchgrass (Panicum capillare)

 I was walking along Rush Pond Trail near Lake George, in New York, when I spotted a few unusual grasses that stood along the perimeter of a vacant lot.

I had never seen their like before. The grasses had airy panicles above, purplish in color, but they also were rather hairy and had tough looking, almost corn-like leaves.

Not only were the stems hairy, but their leaves also had long hairs sprouting from its side, as well as on its surfaces.

I took macroshots of the spikelets, and later tentatively identified the unknown grass as  Panicum capillare, an annual bunchgrass which is native to North America.

The interesting thing about this species is that its large panicle, when dried, can later break off whole and travel around as tumbleweeds!

I have to admit, I would like to see such a phenomenon. I never actually thought grasses could create such diasporic structures.


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