Plant Guide > Grasses > Tall Red Top Grass

Tall Red Top Grass


Tridens flavus (L.) Hitchc.

In dry fields, where the chief grasses of late summer are low, bushy Panic-grasses, slender Paspalums, and spreading tufts of Eragrostis, Tall Red-top, often shoulder-high and bearing long, tapering leaves, rises in striking contrast to the lower growth.

This grass, which is found from southern New England to the Gulf, blooms in August and September, with the Purple Eragrostis, at a season when the sunshine brings from the earth the warm odour of pennyroyal and other mints that are common on dry hillsides, and that seem to have absorbed the summer's heat to give it out again in fragrance.

The flowering-head of Tall Red-top, which is somewhat sticky to the touch in the axis of the panicle and below, is often more than a foot long and nearly as wide, and as the slender, rather rigid branches spread widely the panicles are very beautiful when the shining purple spikelets open.

Tall Red-Top. Tridens flavus (L.) Hitchc.

Perennial.

Stem 3-6 ft. tall, erect. Sheaths hairy at the summit. Leaves long, tapering, flat or sometimes involute.

Panicle 8'-20' long, branches spreading, lower branches 3'-8' long. Panicle sticky in axis and below. Spikelets purple, 4-8-flowered, 3"-4" long. Outer scales unequal, keeled, abruptly pointed; flowering scales 3-nerved, slightly 3-toothed, nerves silky below. Stamens 3.

Dry fields. July to September.

Southern New England to Missouri, and southward.