|Florida Nature: Native Grasses|
Find Florida plants for your landscape and Florida garden. Learn about
Florida-friendly plants, including Florida native plants, that require
little irrigation or fertilizer, are low maintenance and attract
wildlife. With Florida's plentiful plant life, it is no surprise that we
have some unique, native grasses.
Cordgrass (Spartina spp.)- Smooth cord grass is a native on the U.S. Atlantic coast, but is considered to be a non-native invasive plant on the U.S. Pacific coast. Smooth cord grass is a medium-large saltwater-loving is frequently found growing in tidal flats, salt marshes, and beaches nearly throughout Florida. It blooms from summer to fall and occurs almost always (estimated probability 99%) under natural conditions in wetlands. Its roots are a favorite food of snow geese.
Elliott's Lovegrass (Eragrostis elliottii)- Elliot's lovegrass is grass found among flatwoods, sandhills, and prairies from summer through fall. There are 30 varieties and species of Eragrostis in Florida. Elliott's lovegrass grows in Pensacola, Miami and everywhere in between. this plant is drought tolerant and is suitable for xeriscaping. Elliott's lovegrass is useful in preventing soil erosion and does well in full sun to partial shade. Elliott's love grass prefers sandy soil, that is either wet or dry.
Fakahatchee Grass (Tripsacum dactyloides and cvs.)- Easy to grow and virtually pest-free, Fakahatchee Grass is stunningly beautiful with its rich green foliage erupting from fountain-like clumps that will grow to 5 feet in height and 4 feet wide. The leaves are erect up to 6 feet in length and about 1 inch wide. Distinctive flowers appear in late spring to mid-summer and rise above the leaves on slender stems. Gamma grass is evergreen in sub-tropical areas. When exposed to frosts the leaves assume shades of red and bronze.
Florida Gama Grass (Tripsacum floridana) is an accent grass. This Floridian native grass makes a great groundcover in open, dry areas, when planted in masses. Florida Gama grass is a wonderful accent in wildflower and rock gardens. This grass grows to About 2-3 feet in height; to 4 feet when in flower, and is about as broad as tall. You will find Florida Gama grass from Monroe, Miami-Dade and Collier counties and south to the pine rocklands of Big Pine Key.
Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris)- This ornamental clumping grass is native to Texas and Florida and grows 3 feet tall and wide. With the flower spikes (inflorescence), it is 4 feet tall and 4 feet wide. The deep pinkish-red inflorescence which are loose and open in appearance give the tops of the plants a feathery or cotton candy look. They last up to two months. The inflorescence is quite magnificent when backlit by early morning or late afternoon sun.
Panic Grass (Panicum virgatum and cvs.)- This native perennial grass is tufted at the base, sending out multiple culms that are erect to spreading and up to 2½' long. The culms are green to reddish green and terete, branching occasionally to produce side stems. Each node of the culms has a dense ring of long white hairs; sometimes the culms are reddish near the nodes. The blades of the alternate leaves are up to 3½" long and nearly ½" across; they are narrowly lanceolate, green, and flat. The upper surface of each leaf blade is hairless or sparsely covered with short white hairs; sometimes there are a few long hairs near its base. The lower surface of each leaf blade is more or less hairy. The leaf sheaths are green, longitudinally ribbed, and heavily covered with long white hairs.
Purple Lovegrass (Eragrostis spectabilis)- A perennial grass weed with rhizomes that has a relatively large, open panicle that is purple in color. Purple lovegrass is primarily a weed of pastures, hayfields, and noncrop areas and is found throughout the southeastern United States. Leaf sheaths are round and hairy, especially at the collar region. The distinctive purple panicle, low-growing habit, rhizomes, and leaves that have long hairs especially near the collar region are all characteristics that help to distinguish purple lovegrass from most other grass weeds.
River Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium)- River Oats is also known as Spangle Grass, Wildoats and Broadleaf Uniola. This plant is an inland relative of sea-oats that naturally stabilize sand dunes along the east coast and Gulf of Mexico. Its preferred habitat is wetlands, flood zones, stream banks and low meadows. Distribution is throughout the Escambia region. Flowers occur in June to October, drooping panicles of dangling flat spikelet clusters in "V" shaped pairs, on thin flexible stems.
Wiregrass (Aristida stricta var. beyrichiana)- Wiregrass, also called pineland threeawn, is one of the most common grasses in the southern pine flatwoods and upland sandhills. It is a favorite food of gopher tortoises and quail and provides valuable cover for many birds, reptiles, and small mammals. The young plants may also be used as a forage by livestock. Wiregrass is a perennial bunch grass that grows in dense, spreading tufts, reaching heights of 1½' to 3'. The leaves are long, thin, wiry, or needle-like with tufts of fine, white fuzz around the leaf base.
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