Plants rhizomatous. Culms 1-2.5 m; nodes hairy, occasionally
glabrate, hairs 7-12 mm. Sheaths mostly glabrous, ciliate distally; auricles
absent; ligules 1-3 mm; blades 30-60 cm long, 14-28 mm wide, glabrous
at maturity. Peduncles 40-60 cm, pilose; panicles 3-10 cm wide,
oblong to lanceolate; rachises 15-34 cm, densely pilose; lowest nodes
glabrous or sparsely pilose; primary branches 3-12 cm, appressed; rame
internodes 3-5 mm, pilose. Sessile spikelets 6-7 mm long, 1.1-1.4
mm wide, straw-colored; callus hairs 9-14 mm, exceeding the spikelets,
silvery or purple-tinged; lower glumes 5-veined, smooth; upper glumes
3-5-veined; lower lemmas 4.8-5.6 mm, without veins or 1-veined; upper
lemmas 4-4.6 mm, 1-veined, bifid, teeth 1.8-2 mm, ciliate; awns 14-20
mm, flattened and spirally coiled at the base; lodicule veins not extending
into hairlike projections; anthers 2. Pedicels 2.5-4 mm, pilose.
Pedicellate spikelets similar to the sessile spikelets, except frequently
pilose. 2n = 30.
Saccharum alopecuroides grows in damp woods, open areas, and field margins.
It is restricted to the southeastern United States. It is rare or non-existent
on the sandy coastal plain, and there are few specimens from southern Florida
and the higher elevations of the Appalachian Mountains. The combination of long
rhizomes, long silvery callus hairs, and spirally coiled awns distinguish S.
alopecuroides from all other species in the region.
From Flora of Indiana (1940) by Charles C. Deam
This species is known as a native only in Perry County where I found it on a wooded slope along the Ohio River about 5 miles east of Cannelton. It was also noted in a fallow field in the same county.
Culms stout, 1-3 m, sericeous below the panicle and bearded at the nodes; blades 10-25 mm wide, densely pilose near the base; panicle 2-3 dm, silvery to tawny, its axis villous; spikelets 5-6 mm, cream-color, villous, shorter than and almost concealed by the numerous subtending hairs; awn 10-15 mm, flattened, spirally twisted below; 2n=60. Moist soil, fence-rows, and old fields; N.J. to s. Ind., s. to Fla. and Tex. (E. divaricatus, misapplied; Saccharum a.)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.