Tripsacum dactyloides

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Tripsacum dactyloides
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
Division:Magnoliophyta
Class:Liliopsida
Order:Poales
Family:Poaceae
Subfamily:Panicoideae
Tribe:Andropogoneae
Genus:Tripsacum
Species:T. dactyloides
Binomial name
Tripsacum dactyloides
(L.) L.
Synonyms
 
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Tripsacum dactyloides
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
Division:Magnoliophyta
Class:Liliopsida
Order:Poales
Family:Poaceae
Subfamily:Panicoideae
Tribe:Andropogoneae
Genus:Tripsacum
Species:T. dactyloides
Binomial name
Tripsacum dactyloides
(L.) L.
Synonyms

Tripsacum dactyloides, commonly called eastern gamagrass, is a warm-season, sod-forming bunch grass[1] native to the Eastern US. In addition, gamagrass is a far relative of the corn species (Zea mays) and, like corn, the male part of the plant is located in the upper part of the female parts. The joints of the seed-bearing part of the plant break when the plant is developed and each part of seed-bearing part has one seed.[2]

Contents

Description

Usually gamagrass is 2–3 feet (0.61–0.91 m) tall, but it can grow up to 8–10 ft (2.4–3.0 m) tall. Seed producing season of the grass is from June to September. The seeds contain one to numerous thorns and the size of the seed head can range from 6 to 10 inches. The distinct midrib leaves of gamagrass can grow up to a height of 12–24 inches (300–610 mm) and a width of 0.375–0.75 in (9.5–19 mm).[1]

Eastern gamagrass has several short, fibrous and thick rhizomes. The deep and hollow roots of the plant branch out from lower nodes. Since the grass has short internodes, all the leaves grow out from the base of the plant. Each clump's diameter can increase up to 4 ft (1.2 m).[3]

The stems and leaves have a purplish color and are glabrous. The glabrous leaf-blade is around 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) in length, 9–35 millimetres (0.35–1.4 in) wide and have hairs at the base. In the terminal of axillary, inflorescence of gamagrass grows from 10–30 centimetres (3.9–12 in) long. The type of inflorescence is usually a single raceme or panicle which is 2 to 3 combined unisexual single racemes.[4] Flowers of eastern gamagrass which bloom from late March to early October consist of red spikes made up of female and male spikelets. Usually spikelets of grass help for reproduction by holding the grain and fruit of grasses. The mature female spikelets will be destroyed and separated like pop-beads. Eastern gamagrass can survive in droughts and floods for a long time with rigid and thick rhizomatous roots holding the plant up strong.[5]

Tripsacum dactyloides has different female and male flowers and a monoecious plant. The seeds mature disproportionally and production is commonly slow.[6] Tripsacum dactyloides is known as one of the species in the Poaceae family, one of the Andropogoneae tribe and one of the sub-tribes of Tripsacinae. As the plant is a far relative of corn, the plant shares the common subtribes with corn species, Zea mays.[2]

Distribution

Eastern gamagrass has relative Tripsacum species throughout the United States and Mexico. The plant was first planted in Iowa and the southwest part of the United States and the habitat range of gamagrass is still expanding.[2] Tripsacum dactyloides is broadly spread throughout the United States, from Connecticut to Nebraska and South to Florida and Texas. It also goes as far south as South America, to Paraguay and Brazil. Eastern gamagrass is adapted in numerous different areas like sandy soils, marshes, river banks, open spaces in tropical rain forests and even rocky outcrop.[2]

Adaptability

The warm season gamagrass is native to eastern parts the of United States. The best growing conditions for eastern gamagrass is wet land, such as flood plains along the river banks. Moreover, lowland like moistened areas where it is not alkaline will maintain the growth of gamagrass because the land can endure a longer time under flood conditions.[2] The soil that is most suitable for eastern gamagrass is moist, little drained soil that has an annual precipitation of 900–1,500 mm (35–59 in) and fertile soils with a pH of 5.5 to 7.5. The plant can adapt in not only the moistened soil but also drained soil due to a great tolerance of salt compared to other species. T. dactyloides can tolerate a flood for a maximum of 3 weeks without dying. Furthermore, the deep roots which extend to around 4.5 m (15 ft) underground, are the main key structure that allows gamagrass to tolerate drought.[2]

Uses

Around the late 1980s and early 1990s, people started to pay attention to eastern gamagrass, Tripsacum dactyloides, as a good productive forage in summer. Since eastern gamagrass is productive, palatable and easily digestible to almost all cattle. With these reasons, gamagrass is fit perfectly for the feeding crops, including hay and pasture forage for which rotation of grazing seasons is controlled. It is used as forage because the growing season of the grass is earlier compared to other warm season growing grasses and later compared to other cool season growing grass and legumes.[2]

Gamagrass is also perfect fit for the wild life habitat. Hollow space in the middle of dispersed bundles and the tented canopy created by leaves that grow out from the rhizomes and drop into the middle are key traits to become the habitat for wildlife. The empty space in the middle of bundles is especially large enough for wild animals like quails and prairie-chickens to build nests. Moreover, the grass provides nice cover during winter for grassland sparrows.[5]

Starts growing from mid-April to mid-September. Gamagrass grows little earlier, early spring, compared to the other native warm-season grass like big bluestem, Andropogon gerardi, and switch grass, Panicum virgatum. High relative yield of gamagrass in summer is major element that allows this grass to be the great feeding crop when cool-season grasses ("tall fescue") are undeveloped.[3]

History

In early years, eastern gamagrass was largely considered as a high class of feeding crops among settlers. However, the grass started to get wiped out because of growing grain crops and cattle grazing. Native animals, like buffalo and elk, were grazed in the areas where eastern gamagrass was growing before Europeans' settlement and moved to other new areas until the grazed place had fresh grass grow again. Since eastern gamagrass requires a moderate amount of carbohydrates stored in the bases of leaves that allow the grass to regrow, the time livestock moved to other areas is necessary for the regrowth of the plant. If the plant is grazed before carbohydrate accumulates in the bases of leaves, the plant will die from overgrazing.[2]

Genetics

Hybrids have been made between Zea mays and the octoploid (2n = 72) form of T. dactyloides.[7]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "EASTERN GAMAGRASS". United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Censervation Service: 1–2. 05. http://plants.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_trda3.pdf. Retrieved 20, April, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Eastern Gamagrass". United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service: 1–3. May 1996. http://www.plant-materials.nrcs.usda.gov/pubs/mopmcfseggrs.pdf.
  3. ^ a b Robert, Craig; Robert Kallenbach (30). "Eastern Gamagrass". MU Guide: 1–4. https://mospace.umsystem.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10355/7949/EasternGamagrass.pdf?sequence.
  4. ^ "Tripsacum dactyloides". Tropical Forages. http://www.tropicalforages.info/key/Forages/Media/Html/Tripsacum_dactyloides.htm. Retrieved 20, April 2012.
  5. ^ a b "Eastern Gamagrass". Houston Audubon. http://www.houstonaudubon.org/default.aspx?act=newsletter.aspx&category=Natives&newsletterid=1730&AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1.
  6. ^ "Eastern Gamagrass". Johnston Enterprises. http://www.jeinc.com/eastern-gamagrass. Retrieved 20, April, 2012.
  7. ^ J. M. J. de Wet & J. R. Harlan (1974). "Tripsacum–maize interaction: a novel cytogenetic system" (PDF). Genetics 78 (1): 493–502. PMC 1213208. PMID 17248666. http://www.genetics.org/content/78/1/493.full.pdf.