Eragrostis pectinacea (Tufted Lovegrass)

Plant Info
Also known as: Carolina Lovegrass
Family:Poaceae (Grass)
Life cycle:annual
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):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Cluster type: panicle

[photo of panicle] 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.

[photo of spikelet]  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: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves]  Leaves are alternate, mostly flat though may be rolled along the edge, 1 to 6 inches long, 1/8 to 1/6 inch wide, mostly smooth on both surfaces or slightly rough on the upper.

[photo of sheath, ligule and node] 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. 

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of persistent paleas after grains have fallen] Spikelets mature to a grayish green or brown. Individual grains drop away independently along with the lemma, leaving the palea and glumes behind persisting on the stalk.

[photo of grains] The grain is golden yellow to brown, oblong-elliptic, up to 1 mm long by.5 mm wide.


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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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka, Hubbard, Ramsey and Washington counties.


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