Monday, July 4, 2011

Plant ID: Panicum clandestinum (deer tongue grass)

This is a woodland plant that really speaks to me. When most people look into the woods I find that they just see green, and don't recognize or know the different species that make up these wonderfully diverse ecosystems. Yeah, you know, you got some trees, a couple shrubby things, and then all these other plants, but they don't really flower, aren't they all just weeds?!? Oh, how wrong people can be. My hope is to post and ID some native and non-native woodland plants to further expand my own plant palette and also to introduce to you some of the great things you can find here in the northeastern US. Except for ferns, conifers, and various mosses, rushes, and lichens, all other plants tend to be angiosperms which means they do flower and set seed or fruit at some point in their life cycle. The catch is that our eye is often untrained so we think we aren't looking at anything special. But I assure you, if you look closely enough you will find that all plants deserve merit.
This wide-leafed grass is called deer tongue grass, or Panicum clandestinum. Usually I am not a big fan of common names but this one I love, as you'd imagine because the foliage is thought to resemble a deer's tongue.
A North American native, this clumping grass only stands a couple feet tall but is a great textural addition to a woodsy setting. Even though it prefers a damp soil with good drainage I'm told it does alright in drier conditions too.
Above you can see the loose inflorescence of flowers that is light and airy and blooms in summer. Supposedly it holds it's nice stiff foliage into winter so I am anxious to see how it holds up through the seasons.

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