Index of Species Information
SPECIES: Dichanthelium acuminatum
SPECIES: Dichanthelium acuminatum
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION :
Walsh, Roberta A. 1995. Dichanthelium acuminatum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online].
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,
Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer).
Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ .
Panicum lanuginosum Ell. [15,17,20,21,23,24,36,40,52]
SCS PLANT CODE :
COMMON NAMES :
tapered rosette grass
The currently accepted scientific name of hairy panicgrass is
Dichanthelium acuminatum (Swartz) Gould & Clark (Poaceae) [4,20,26].
The following varieties are generally accepted [20,26]:
Dichanthelium acuminatum var. acuminatum
Dichanthelium acuminatum var. densiflorum (Rand & Redfield) Gould & Clark
Dichanthelium acuminatum var. implicatum (Scribn.) Gould & Clark
Dichanthelium acuminatum var. lindheimeri (Nash) Gould & Clark
Dichanthelium acuminatum var. longiligulatum (Nash) Gould & Clark
Dichanthelium acuminatum var. thurowii (Scribn. & J. G. Smith) Gould & Clark
Dichanthelium acuminatum var. villosum (Gray) Gould & Clark
Dichanthelium acuminatum var. wrightianum (Scribn.) Gould & Clark
The above taxa have received many treatments. In 1910, Hitchcock and
Chase placed some Panicum species into the subgenus Dichanthelium, which
was elevated to generic status by Gould in 1974. Gould and Clark
extensively revised Dichanthelium in 1978 . Freckmann produced a
revision in 1981, reassigning some of the above D. acuminatum varieties
to species level . This review follows the treatment of Gould
and Clark .
LIFE FORM :
FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS :
No special status
OTHER STATUS :
DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE
SPECIES: Dichanthelium acuminatum
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION :
Hairy panicgrass is widespread in the Americas. It occurs throughout the
United States and in Canada from Newfoundland and Nova Scotia west to
British Columbia. Its distribution extends from eastern Mexico south to
northern South America and it is found in the Antilles
Hairy panicgrass occurs in most ecosystems.
AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE FL GA
HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD
MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ
NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC
SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY
DC PR VI AB BC MB NB NF NS ON
PE PQ SK MEXICO
BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :
1 Northern Pacific Border
2 Cascade Mountains
3 Southern Pacific Border
4 Sierra Mountains
5 Columbia Plateau
6 Upper Basin and Range
7 Lower Basin and Range
8 Northern Rocky Mountains
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
10 Wyoming Basin
11 Southern Rocky Mountains
12 Colorado Plateau
13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont
14 Great Plains
15 Black Hills Uplift
16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands
KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :
Hairy panicgrass occurs in most Kuchler Plant Associations.
SAF COVER TYPES :
Hairy panicgrass occurs in most SAF Cover Types.
SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES :
HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES :
Hairy panicgrass occurs in many habitat types and within diverse plant
On dry prairie ridges of central Wisconsin sand plains, associates of
hairy panicgrass include little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium),
skyblue aster (Aster oolentangiensis), heath aster (A. ericoides),
forked threeawn (Aristida basiramea), parasol sedge (Carex umbellata),
poverty oatgrass, prairie junegrass (Koeleria macrantha), tall
gayfeather (Liatris aspera), and Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans) .
In central and northwestern Wisconsin, hairy panicgrass is found on sandy
outwashes and former lake bottoms. Associates include ragweed (Ambrosia
psilostachya), clasping milkweed (Asclepias amplexicaulis), longbranch
frostweed (Helianthemum canadense), Kalm's hawkweed (Hieracium kalmii),
hairy hawkweed (H. longipilum), racemed milkwort (Polygala polygama),
and Virginia tephrosia (Tephrosia virginiana) .
On the west slope of the Sierra Nevada in Placer County, California,
hairy panicgrass occurs in grazed meadows which follow natural drainages.
Associates include Thurber's bentgrass (Agrostis thurberiana), other
bentgrasses (Agrostis spp.), California oatgrass (Danthonia
californica), pullup muhly (Muhlenbergia filiformis), sedges (Carex
spp.), rushes (Juncus spp.), woodrushes (Luzula spp.), white clover
(Trifolium repens), seep monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatus), primrose
monkeyflower (M. primuloides), trailing St. Johnswort (Hypericum
anagalloides), and violets (Viola spp.) .
In the Adirondacks of New York, hairy panicgrass associates include
Pickering's reedgrass (Calamagrostis pickeringii), bluejoint reedgrass
(C. canadensis), northern reedgrass (C. stricta ssp. inexpansa), sedges,
poverty oatgrass (Danthonia spicata), threeway sedge (Dulichium
arundinaceum), rattlesnake mannagrass (Glyceria canadensis),
narrowpanicle rush (Juncus brevicaudatus), brownfruit rush (J.
pelocarpus), bog muhly (Muhlenbergia uniflora), whitebeaked rush
(Rhynchospora alba), and low bulrush (Scirpus cespitosus) .
SPECIES: Dichanthelium acuminatum
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE :
NUTRITIONAL VALUE :
COVER VALUE :
VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES :
Hairy panicgrass is useful as a soil stabilizer and for restoring degraded
areas . However, in some locations it declines in importance after
a few years as other species increase in cover.
By 1976, hairy panicgrass was thriving along a section of highway in
Peoria, Illinois, that had been planted to prairie vegetation in
November 1966. Prairie seeds had been broadcast over hard-packed clay
soil that had been loosened .
Prairie was reestablished at Pea Ridge National Military Park, Arkansas.
The original prairie had been turned to agricultural use. The site was
plowed in early June 1975, and a seed mixture (not including woolly
panicum) was hand-broadcast on each plot. Vegetation was sampled in
early fall of 1975 and in late spring and early fall for 4 years
thereafter. Hairy panicgrass established in the fall of the first year
and persisted for the 5 years of the study. However, it was prominent
only in the 2-year-old plots. Seeded prairie grasses in the restoration
plots have increased, and other grasses including hairy panicgrass have
decreased. Mean percent cover of hairy panicgrass on 1- to 5-year-old
plots based on spring (S) and fall (F) sampling was as follows :
Plot Age in Years
1 2 3 4 5
F S F S F S F S F
0.5 4.8 5.0 2.1 1.6 0.5 0.0 1.0 0.0
Hairy panicgrass was a component of 4-year-old and 8-year-old
reestablished prairies in southwestern Ohio .
OTHER USES AND VALUES :
OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS :
Hairy panicgrass does not respond uniformly to grazing.
In the Sierra Nevada in Placer County, California, hairy panicgrass was
present in meadows which were grazed May 30 to September 30 each year
from 1979 to 1986. Utilization of meadow species averaged 61 percent
over the 10 years, but increased to more than 80 percent after 1985.
Hairy panicgrass increased from 0.8 to 2.1 percent relative cover over
that time .
In a 12-year study of grazing intensity in central Louisiana, the
frequency of several species, including hairy panicgrass, was greater on
ungrazed than on moderately or heavily grazed range. However,
differences owing to grazing intensity were considered "small and
relatively unimportant" .
BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS
SPECIES: Dichanthelium acuminatum
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS :
Hairy panicgrass is a native, perennial bunchgrass . It is
polymorphic, having early and late season forms of the same plant.
Vernal culms are tufted, usually unbranched and radiating from the base,
and 6 to 32 inches (15-80 cm) tall [14,17,36]. Early leaf blades are
1.6 to 3.9 inches (4-10 cm) long [21,22]; panicles are pyramidal and 1.2
to 4.7 inches (3-12 cm) long [14,21,24]. Autumnal culms are decumbent
and much-branched, mostly from the middle nodes; they produce dense
fascicles of leaves and inflorescences [19,24]. Fall culm leaf blades
are shorter, narrower, and more crowded than early blades. Winter
rosette blades are also short, but are relatively broad. Late panicles
are reduced and often partly enclosed in leaf sheaths . Spikelets
are awnless ; the fruit is a caryopsis .
RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :
REGENERATION PROCESSES :
Hairy panicgrass reproduces by seeds; it does not have rhizomes or stolons
[17,22]. Vernal panicles are open and produce chasmogamous flowers.
Autumnal panicles are reduced  and often are partly enclosed in the
leaf sheaths ; these enclosed flowers are self-pollinated .
Hairy panicgrass seeds can be found in the seedbank, but presence of
hairy panicgrass vegetation does not necessarily correspond to presence in
the seedbank. In southwestern Ohio, five unburned old-field-deciduous
forest sites were surveyed for vegetational and seedbank presence.
Hairy panicgrass was present as vegetation and in the seedbank at two
sites, present only as vegetation at two sites, and not present in
either form at one site [37,47,48].
In Harvard Forest at Petersham, Massachusetts, hairy panicgrass was a
widespread seedbank component in old fields and white pine (Pinus
strobus) stands. It was not a component of the herbaceous ground cover
at any site .
SITE CHARACTERISTICS :
Hairy panicgrass occurs in a wide variety of habitats. It is found in
woodlands [19,24] woodland borders, and recently cleared woodland areas.
It occurs on prairies , dunes, seashores , and along open
roadsides . It grows along the banks of rivers and lakes  and
in marshes, swamps and swales . It is found along the shorelines of
bogs , pondcypress (Taxodium distichum) ponds , and around
hot springs .
Hairy panicgrass grows on many soil types. It occurs on heavy, wet soils
, silty loam [2,11,48], sandy loam with high organic content ,
moist to dry sand [14,20,24,34,46,49], and gravelly, often calcareous
soils . Soils are often acidic . In southern Quebec near
Montreal, hairy panicgrass grows on fine loamy sand with pH 6.1; the soil
is low in magnesium and very low in calcium and nitrogen .
Hairy panicgrass has been reported from the following elevations:
Arizona 4,000-6,500 1,219-1,981 
California < 8,531 < 2,600 
Colorado 3,500-5,500 1,067-1,676 [8,22]
New York < 5,348 < 1,630 
Utah 3,510-7,317 1,070-2,230 
Mexico 98-9,843 30-3,000 
SUCCESSIONAL STATUS :
Hairy panicgrass appears in early secondary succession. It does not
appear in old-growth forests, but is found in stands of intermediate
In southwestern Ohio, hairy panicgrass occurred in all but the oldest of a
chronosequence of five unburned old-field-deciduous forest sites; the
sites were surveyed nine times during the 1980 growing season. Site 1
was an old field abandoned for 2 years and dominated by red clover
(Trifolium pratense). Site 2 was an old field abandoned for 10 years
and dominated by Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) and meadow
fescue (Festuca pratensis). Site 3 was an old field abandoned for 50
years and dominated by Canada goldenrod, with white ash (Fraxinus
americana) and black cherry (Prunus serotina) providing about 30 percent
canopy cover. Site 4 was an old field abandoned for 90 years and
dominated by a forest of sugar maple (Acer saccharum) and slippery elm
(Ulmus rubra). Site 5 was an old-growth American beech (Fagus
grandifolia) and sugar maple dominated forest which was over 200 years
old. Hairy panicgrass was present but not common at site 1; its seeds
were present in the seedbank. It was present in "disturbed" vegetation
at site 2; its seeds were not found in the seedbank. Hairy panicgrass was
a common species in "disturbed" vegetation at site 3; its seeds were
found in the seedbank. It was present but not common at site 4; its
seeds were not found in the seedbank. Hairy panicgrass was not present
nor found in the seedbank at site 5 [37,47,78].
In upland oak-pine forest sites in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, woolly
panicum did not occur in the flora but appeared to persist in the
seedbank. Its persistence was attributed to infrequent local
Hairy panicgrass was found in marshes of a Connecticut River oxbow in
western Massachusetts in 1984, though it had not been present in 1974.
Hairy panicgrass was found only in the highest and driest areas of the
marshes, at low cover (<0.5%) and frequency (1%). During high water,
much of the marsh area is flooded. The appearance and disappearance of
hairy panicgrass was probably due to variations in water level during the
study period .
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT :
Hairy panicgrass produces a basal rosette during autumn and winter.
Primary inflorescences develop and bloom on elongated unbranched culms
that grow from the rosettes early in spring. Late spring, summer, and
autumn growth of the same culms produces fascicles of short, branched
and rebranched lateral shoots with greatly reduced leaves and lateral
inflorescences which also bloom. Hairy panicgrass thus has two main
flowering periods .
Hairy panicgrass flowering times are:
California June-August 
Florida May-September 
Illinois May-October 
New York June-July 
West Virginia June-September 
Eastern United States May-November 
Great Plains May-June 
New England June-September 
Southeastern United States May-August 
Southern United States begins 
SPECIES: Dichanthelium acuminatum
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS :
Hairy panicgrass has basal buds  which may sprout after aerial
portions are burned. If thick tufts form, they may protect the basal
buds from fire damage.
POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :
Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)
SPECIES: Dichanthelium acuminatum
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT :
Hairy panicgrass culms and leaves are probably killed by fire.
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT :
PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE :
Hairy panicgrass presence in response to fire varies with frequency and
severity of fire. Hairy panicgrass occurs with greater frequency
following annual fires than following less frequent fires. It has
lowest frequency where there are no fires [7,12,31,33]. However, if the
fire is severe enough to damage buds and roots, hairy panicgrass presence
declines . Fire reduces hairy panicgrass flowering [2,18].
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE :
Hairy panicgrass was subjected to annual or periodic surface fires in
upland oak forests in Franklin County, Tennessee. Data were collected
each September from 1965 to 1970. Burning on annual burn plots began in
1963; periodic burn plots were treated in 1964 and 1969. All fires were
in late winter. Hairy panicgrass occurred with greatest frequency on
annually burned plots, with intermediate frequency on periodically
burned plots, and with lowest frequency on unburned plots .
A 90-year-old red pine (Pinus resinosa) and white pine stand in Chalk
River, Ontario, was surveyed for vegetation in late August of 1969,
1970, 1971, and 1972. Prior to burning, the site was dominated by
shrubs and balsam fir (Abies balsamea) saplings. Fires were conducted
on June 15 of 1970 and 1971. Total reduction in depth of the organic
layer was approximately 30 percent. Fuel consumption of the forest
floor was confined to the litter layer; the duff was almost undisturbed.
Postfire cover was dominated by herbaceous species. Hairy panicgrass was
absent from prefire permanent plots but occurred in the plots in
postfire years 1 to 4. However, it did not become important in terms of
density or biomass during the time of the study .
Hairy panicgrass was a component of a pitcher plant (Sarracenia alata) bog
in Harrison County, Mississippi, that had been burned annually in winter
over the previous 7 years .
In southwestern Ohio, hairy panicgrass was a component of an 8-year-old
prairie which was established in 1979 and burned in 1983 .
In southern Illinois grassland, hairy panicgrass declined sharply, from
18,415 to 1,080 flowering culms per acre (45,486-2,668 culms/ha),
following fire. Plots had been undisturbed from 1950 to 1969. Plots
were sampled in August 1969. Burning was conducted December 1, 1969.
The fire was moderate, resulting in nearly complete consumption of the
heavy litter accumulation from years of fire protection. Postfire
sampling of burned and control plots was done from June through
September 1970. Hairy panicgrass had the greatest decrease in frequency
following burning of any species sampled, probably because of damage to
its buds and roots. Response of hairy panicgrass to the fire was :
1969 1970 1969 1970
24.6 26.3 42.5 0.8
In Illinois, hairy panicgrass showed a 94 percent decrease in flowering
following a spring fire .
FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS :
SPECIES: Dichanthelium acuminatum
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