Eragrostis pectinacea (Tufted Lovegrass)
|Also known as:||Carolina Lovegrass|
|Habitat:||sun; disturbed soil; roadsides, railroads, waste places, pastures, gardens, shorlines|
|Fruiting season:||July - October|
|Plant height:||10 to 24 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FAC MW: FAC NCNE: FAC|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Loose panicles, taller than wide, 2 to 9½ inches long, egg-shaped to pyramidal in outline, repeatedly branched, the main branches spreading to ascending, straight or somewhat wiry. Spikelets (flower clusters) are on a short, slender, straight to wiry stalk, mostly appressed along the main branches, silvery or grayish green with purpling on edges of florets, somewhat flattened, lance linear, 4 to 8 mm long with 5 to 15 florets. The two or three lowest florets are often larger than those above making the spikelet widest at its base.
At the base of a spikelet is a pair of bracts (glumes) that are lance to egg-shaped, papery, 1-veined, the lower glume .5 to 1.5 mm long, the upper glume larger, 1 to 1.7 mm long. Surrounding a floret is a pair of bracts (lemma and palea), the lemmas broadly egg-shaped, 1 to 2.2 mm long, nearly twice as long as the lower glume, folded along the keel, 3 veined with prominent lateral veins. Palea are somewhat smaller than the lemma, translucent whitish, rough hairy along most of the keel. Keels of glumes and lemmas have short stiff hairs (scabrous) towards the tip and have no glands.
Leaves and stems:
Sheaths are typically shorter than the internodes, smooth except for a tuft of long white hairs at the tip. The lowest sheath on the stem can be variably hairy along its length. The ligule (membrane where the leaf joins the sheath) is a fringe of short hairs. Nodes are smooth. Stems are smooth, multiple from the base, repeatedly branching near the base, mostly simple above, often prostrate at the base and sharply angled from the lower node (geniculate) and erect to ascending above. Stems and sheaths are variably green to reddish purple.
Tufted Lovegrass can be found in a wide range of both natural and man disturbed habitats and is one of the more common annual grasses found along highways and roads across Minnesota as well as in lawns and gardens. Part of a large global group of similar species called the E. pectinacea-pilosa complex, itself has three recognized varieties in North America, referenced by variations in the degree of spreading in the spikelets. The most common, with appressed spikelets, is var. pectinacea, which is the var found in Minnesota. Of other lovegrasses in Minnesota, it is most similar to Sandbar Lovegrass (E. frankii) (also a member of the complex). Collections of that species have nearly exclusively been found along banks and sandbars of streams and rivers in our central to southeastern counties. Overall it is proprtionately smaller in size but more distinct are the spikelets, which rarely have more that 2-3 florets, whereas E. pectinacea typically has 7 to 10.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- Tufted Lovegrass plant
- roadside Tufted Lovegrass
- Tufted Lovegrass emerging in a lawn
- early season Tufted Lovegrass
- lowest sheath is variably hairy
Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka, Hubbard, Ramsey and Washington counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?