USDA PLANTS


USDA PLANTS

Class
Monocotyledoneae (Monocots)
Family
Poaceae (Grass Family)
State Protection
Endangered
Listed as Endangered by New York State: in imminent danger of extirpation in New York. For animals, taking, importation, transportation, or possession is prohibited, except under license or permit. For plants, removal or damage without the consent of the landowner is prohibited.
Federal Protection
Not Listed
State Conservation Status Rank
S1
Critically Imperiled in New York - Especially vulnerable to disappearing from New York due to extreme rarity or other factors; typically 5 or fewer populations or locations in New York, very few individuals, very restricted range, very few remaining acres (or miles of stream), and/or very steep declines.
Global Conservation Status Rank
G5
Secure globally - Common in the world; widespread and abundant (but may be rare in some parts of its range).

Summary

Did you know?

The name for the genus comes from the Greek words meaning two-flowering, and refers to the 2 flowering periods of these grasses, once on the primary stalk in the spring and again on the branches in late summer (Flora North America Editors 2003). The species name means broom-like (Fernald 1950). This species is in the section Clandestina with two other related species, Dichanthelium clandestinum, the common deer-tongue grass, and the New York rare grass Dichanthelium scabriusculum.

State Ranking Justification

There is one existing population on Staten Island however it has been suppressed by woody succession in the last 20 years and may only survive in the seed bank waiting for the right disturbance. There are five historical populations from the early 1900s through the 1950s which have not been rediscovered although habitat still exists. There are two populations that are now considered extirpated because their habitat has been developed.

Short-term Trends

The only existing population was last seen in 1992 and has been rechecked once and not seen. It may still exist in the seed bank waiting for the proper disturbance.

Long-term Trends

Although this plant was always rare with fewer than 10 occurrences documented in the state it has now been reduced to one population which may or may not still be there. More intensive surveys may discover new populations since this plant is difficult to positively identify.

Conservation and Management

Threats

The existing population is threatened by succession of nearby shrubs and successional species.

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices

This species needs disturbance to reduce competition from woody plants or more aggressive herbaceous plants but too much direct disturbance to the plants will reduce or eliminate the population. Its habitat could be disturbed in the non-growing season to reduce competition to allow for seed germination and colonization but direct disturbance should be prevented during the growing season.

Research Needs

Research is needed to determine the proper disturbance regime for this grass.

Habitat

Habitat

The only extant site for this species in the state is a grassland on serpentine soils. However, the historical record shows collections from non-serpentine wetlands in the New York City and Long Island areas (New York Natural Heritage Program 2010). Moist, sandy, often disturbed areas (FNA 2003). Wet soil (Gleason & Cronquist 1991). Damp thickets, swales and shores (Fernald 1970).

Associated Ecological Communities

  • Serpentine barrens (guide)
    A grass-savanna community that occurs on shallow soils over outcrops of serpentine bedrock. In New York this community is known only from Staten Island, where the remnants are relatively disturbed.

Associated Species

  • Cyperus echinatus (globe flat sedge)
  • Schizachyrium scoparium

Range

New York State Distribution

This grass is only currently known from Staten Island although at one time it ranged through New York City and Long Island. There are also some historical records from the Finger Lakes area in Seneca, Tioga, and Yates counties.

Global Distribution

This grass occurs along the coastal plain from Massachusetts (where it is possibly extirpated) south to northern Florida and the Gulf Coast to Texas. It also occurs inland from Virginia to southeastern Kansas south through eastern Oklahoma and eastern Texas. There are a few rare populations in the upper Midwest on the southern borders of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio and one disjunct population in northeastern Michigan.

Best Places to See

  • Belmont Lake State Park (Suffolk County)

Identification Comments

General Description

This species is a perennial grass which forms small clumps. The stems are from 50 to 150 cm tall, soft-hairy throughout, and arise from a rosette of lance-shaped basal leaves. The nodes are swollen, and have a dense "beard" of hairs above a constricted, sticky ring. There are 7 to 11 stem leaves, these also hairy and 9 to 20 mm wide. Both the internodes and the ends of the leaves are purplish. The primary infloresence is a panicle 6-16 cm long and 5 to 12 cm wide, flowering from May to July. The spikelets are 2.2 to 2.8 mm long, prominently veined and pubescent on the margins and apices. The lower florets are sterile, and the upper (fertile) ones sharply pointed on top (FNA 2003).

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification

Plants with stems and fruits (preferably both early and late-season infloresences) are best for identification, though vegetative material may also be identified.

Similar Species

The velvety hairs and swollen nodes with a "beard" of dense hairs above a glabrous, sticky ring are distinctive.

Best Time to See

The mature fruits develop from July through October.

  • Fruiting

The time of year you would expect to find Velvet Panic Grass fruiting in New York.

Velvet Panic Grass Images

Taxonomy

Velvet Panic Grass
Dichanthelium scoparium (Lam.) Gould

  • Kingdom Plantae
    • Phylum Anthophyta
      • Class Monocotyledoneae (Monocots)
        • Order Cyperales
          • Family Poaceae (Grass Family)

Synonyms

  • Dichanthelium scoparium (Lam.) Gould
  • Panicum scoparium Lam.

Additional Resources

Best Identification Reference

Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2003. Flora of North America, North of Mexico. Volume 25. Magnoliophyta: Commelinidae (in part): Poaceae, part 2. Oxford University Press, New York. 783 pp.

Other References

Fernald, M. L. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. 8th edition. Corrected printing (1970). D. Van Nostrand Company, New York. 1632 pp.

Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York. 910 pp.

Holmgren, Noel. 1998. The Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. Illustrations of the Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2010. Biotics database. New York Natural Heritage Program. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2019. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.

Weldy, T. and D. Werier. 2010. New York flora atlas. [S.M. Landry, K.N. Campbell, and L.D. Mabe (original application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research http://www.fccdr.usf.edu/. University of South Florida http://www.usf.edu/]. New York Flora Association http://newyork.plantatlas.usf.edu/, Albany, New York

Links

About This Guide

This guide was authored by: Stephen M. Young

Information for this guide was last updated on: March 1, 2012

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2019. Online Conservation Guide for Dichanthelium scoparium. Available from: https://guides.nynhp.org/velvet-panic-grass/. Accessed May 26, 2019.

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