purpletop tridens (Tridens flavus)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMON NAMES:

purpletop triden

greasegrass

 

SCIENTIFIC SYNONYMS: There are no scientific synonyms for

Tridens flavus.

 

TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name for purpletop

tridens is Tridens flavus (L.) Hitchc.
 

NATIVE STATUS: Native, United States; Introduced, Canada.

 

GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Purpletop tridens is

a bunchgrass with erect tufted culms. It is 35 to 75 inches tall. Leaf blades

are flat, often less than 1/2 inch wide and 10 to 27 inches long, lax, smooth,

and glossy green. The leaf sheath is flattened near the base, keeled (has a

central rib), and overlapping. The ligule (projection up from inside leaf

sheath where sheath meets blade) is a ring of short hairs. The seedhead is

an open cluster, 8 to 14 inches long, spreading, pyramid shaped, usually

purple, sometimes nearly black. The seedheads droop and are covered with

an oily or grease-like substance. There are 465,000 seeds per pound.

 

REGENERATION PROCESS: Purpletop tridens propagates itself by

reseeding. Purpletop seedlings are slow to develop and competition from

weeds and/or cool season grass may overwhelm the stand on the better

soils.

 

HABITAT TYPES: Habitats include woodland openings, savannas,

woodland borders, meadows in wooded areas, powerline clearances in

wooded areas, limestone glades, fields, roadsides, and areas along rail-

roads. Areas with a history of disturbance are preferred.

 

SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Purpletop tidens is adapted to soils that

are well- drained to droughty, shallow and rocky, fertile to sterile. Purple-

top tridens prefers partial to full sun, moist to dry-mesic conditions, and

soil containing loam or clay-loam. It is tolerant of road salt and often col-

onizes roadside sites, especially in Pennsylvania and south.

 

SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: The blooming period occurs from mid-

summer to early autumn, lasting about 1-2 weeks for a colony of plants.

 

GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Purpletop tridens is adapted to areas of

the eastern United States with more than 30 inches of rainfall, from Maine

to eastern Nebraska to eastern Texas to Florida. It is not common in north-

ern New England or New York, especially on inland sites, where poor

winter hardiness is a problem.

 

SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION:

 

Grass specimens can be found on trails marked in red.

 

       Bleak House
       Appalachian Trail/Old Trail
       South Ridge/North Ridge
       Gap Run
       Snowden
       Woodpecker Lane

       Sherman's Mill
       Rolling Meadows/ Lost Mountain
       Fish Pond

 

The specific distribution of purpletop tridens has not been determined.

 

IMPORTANCES AND USES: Purpletop tridens is a perennial, warm

season grass that is consumed by all grazing livestock. It is well adapted

to shallow, droughty, infertile soil and provides forage in the summer and

on sites where cool season forages do not produce well. It can be planted

alone or in mixes with other warm season grasses. When not actively cul-

tivated, purpletop tridens can become a weed of hay fields, pastures, aban-

doned fields and roadsides.

 

 

Back to Inventory of Grass Families and Species

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