Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

Plains lovegrass is a native, warm season, perennial bunch grass. The height is between 2 and 3 1/2 feet. The leaf blade is flat and rolls inward under dry conditions giving a threadlike appearance. The leaf sheath is mostly basal, smooth, as long as internodes, and has a conspicuous line of hairs at the collar. The seedhead is a large and showy open panicle that is brownish green in color before seed ripens. The spikelets are 3  to 8 flowered and extend horizontally from main stem. Silver hairs are found around the stem at the panicle base.

Distribution: For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Alternative names

plains love grass

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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Distribution

National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

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Occurrence in North America

     AL  AZ  AR  FL  GA  HI  KS  LA  MS  MO
     NM  OK  TX  MEXICO

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Plains lovegrass occurs from Florida and Georgia west to Arizona
[19,49].  It extends north into Missouri and eastern Kansas [24,25] and
south through Mexico to Costa Rica [25,29,31].
  • 19.  Fernald, Merritt Lyndon. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. [Corrections        supplied by R. C. Rollins]
  • 24.  Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains.        Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. 1392 p.  [1603]
  • 25.  Hitchcock, A. S. 1951. Manual of the grasses of the United States. Misc.        Publ. No. 200. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture,        Agricultural Research Administration. 1051 p. [2nd edition revised by        Agnes Chase in two volumes. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.]
  • 29.  Kearney, Thomas H.; Peebles, Robert H.; Howell, John Thomas; McClintock,        Elizabeth. 1960. Arizona flora. 2d ed. Berkeley, CA: University of        California Press. 1085 p.  [6563]
  • 31.  Leithead, Horace L.; Yarlett, Lewis L.; Shiflet, Thomas N. 1971. 100        native forage grasses in 11 southern states. Agric. Handb. 389.        Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 216 p.        [17552]
  • 49.  Wunderlin, Richard P. 1982. Guide to the vascular plants of central        Florida. Tampa, FL: University Presses of Florida, University of South        Florida. 472 p.  [13125]

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Regional Distribution in the Western United States

More info on this topic.

This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):

    7  Lower Basin and Range
   12  Colorado Plateau
   13  Rocky Mountain Piedmont
   14  Great Plains

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

More info for the term: warm-season

Plains lovegrass is a native, warm-season, C-4, perennial bunchgrass
[24,31,33,34].  Culms are wiry [19], erect, pith filled to hollow [24],
and 12 to 35 inches (30-90 cm) tall [19].  Leaf blades are 4 to 10
inches [10-25 cm] long [25,26]. The inflorescence is an erect, open,
diffuse, pyramidal panicle [24,25] 6 to 14 inches (15-35 cm) long.
Spikelets are three- to nine-flowered [19,25,31]; the fruit is a
caryopsis [25].
  • 19.  Fernald, Merritt Lyndon. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. [Corrections        supplied by R. C. Rollins]
  • 24.  Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains.        Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. 1392 p.  [1603]
  • 25.  Hitchcock, A. S. 1951. Manual of the grasses of the United States. Misc.        Publ. No. 200. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture,        Agricultural Research Administration. 1051 p. [2nd edition revised by        Agnes Chase in two volumes. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.]
  • 26.  Humphrey, Robert R. 1970. Arizona range grasses: Their description,        forage value and management. Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona        Press. 159 p.  [5567]
  • 31.  Leithead, Horace L.; Yarlett, Lewis L.; Shiflet, Thomas N. 1971. 100        native forage grasses in 11 southern states. Agric. Handb. 389.        Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 216 p.        [17552]
  • 33.  McClaran, Mitchel P.; Allen, Larry S.; Ruyle, George B. 1992. Livestock        production and grazing management in the encinal oak woodlands of        Arizona. In: Ffolliott, Peter F.; Gottfried, Gerald J.; Bennett, Duane        A.; [and others]
  • 34.  McPherson, Guy R. 1992. Ecology of oak woodlands in Arizona. In:        Ffolliott, Peter F.; Gottfried, Gerald J.; Bennett, Duane A.; [and        others]

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Physical Description

Perennials, Terrestrial, not aquatic, Stems nodes swollen or brittle, Stems erect or ascending, Stems geniculate, decumbent, or lax, sometimes rooting at nodes, Stems caespitose, tufted, or clustered, Stems terete, round in cross section, or polygonal, Stem internodes solid or spongy, Stem internodes hollow, Stems with inflorescence less than 1 m tall, Stems, culms, or scapes exceeding basal leaves, Leaves mostly basal, below middle of stem, Leaves mostly cauline, Leaves sheathing at base, Leaf sheath mostly open, or loose, Leaf sheath smooth, glabrous, Leaf sheath hairy at summit, throat, or collar, Leaf sheath and blade differentiated, Leaf sheath indurate basally, Leaf blades linear, Leaf blades 2-10 mm wide, Leaf blades mostly flat, Leaf blades mostly glabrous, Ligule present, Ligule a fringe of hairs, Inflorescence terminal, Inflorescence an open panicle, openly paniculate, branche s spreading, Inflorescence solitary, with 1 spike, fascicle, glomerule, head, or cluster per stem or culm, Inflorescence branches more than 10 to numerous, Flowers bisexual, Spikelets pedicellate, Spikelets laterally compressed, Spikelet less than 3 mm wide, Spikelets with 3-7 florets, Spikelets with 8-40 florets, Spikelets solitary at rachis nodes, Spikelets all alike and fertille, Spikelets bisexual, Spikelets disarticulating above the glumes, glumes persistent, Spikelets disarticulating beneath or between the florets, Rachilla or pedicel glabrous, Glumes present, empty bracts, Glumes 2 clearly present, Glumes equal or subequal, Glumes distinctly unequal, Glumes shorter than adjacent lemma, Glumes 1 nerved, Lemmas thin, chartaceous, hyaline, cartilaginous, or membranous, Lemma similar in texture to glumes, Lemma 3 nerved, Lemma glabrous, Lemma apex acute or acuminate, Lemma awnless, Lemma margins thin, lying flat, Lemma straight, Palea present, well developed, Palea membra nous, hyaline, Palea shorter than lemma, Palea 2 nerved or 2 keeled, Palea keels winged, scabrous, or ciliate, Stamens 3, Styles 2-fid, deeply 2-branched, Stigmas 2, Fruit - caryopsis, Caryopsis ellipsoid, longitudinally grooved, hilum long-linear.
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Dr. David Bogler

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Type Information

Isotype for Eragrostis intermedia Hitchc.
Catalog Number: US 908993
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Card file verified by examination of alleged type specimen
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): A. S. Hitchcock
Year Collected: 1910
Locality: Near San Antonio., Bexar, Texas, United States, North America
  • Isotype: Hitchcock, A. S. 1933. J. Wash. Acad. Sci. 23: 450.
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

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Isotype for Eragrostis intermedia Hitchc.
Catalog Number: US 1535750
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Card file verified by examination of alleged type specimen
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): A. S. Hitchcock
Year Collected: 1910
Locality: Near San Antonio., Bexar, Texas, United States, North America
  • Isotype: Hitchcock, A. S. 1933. J. Wash. Acad. Sci. 23: 450.
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

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Holotype for Eragrostis intermedia Hitchc.
Catalog Number: US 1535749
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Card file verified by examination of alleged type specimen
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): A. S. Hitchcock
Year Collected: 1910
Locality: Near San Antonio., Bexar, Texas, United States, North America
  • Holotype: Hitchcock, A. S. 1933. J. Wash. Acad. Sci. 23: 450.
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

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Ecology

Habitat

Key Plant Community Associations

More info for the term: shrub

Plains lovegrass associates in south-central Arizona desert grasslands
include sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula), sprucetop grama (B.
chondrosioides) and other gramas (Bouteloua spp.), threeawns (Aristida
spp.), muhlys (Muhlenbergia spp.), green sprangletop (Leptochloa dubia),
Arizona cottontop (Digitaria californica), wolftail (Lycurus phleoides),
velvet-pod mimosa (Mimosa dysocarpa), ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens),
Wheeler sotol (Dasylirion wheeleri), sacahuista (Nolina microcarpa),
false-mesquite (Calliandra eriophylla), and larchleaf goldenweed
(Aplopappus laricifolius) [14,15,34,37,47,48].

Associates in interior chaparral of Arizona include shrub live oak
(Quercus turbinella), desert ceanothus (Ceanothus greggii), deerbrush
(Ceanothus integerrimus), pointleaf manzanita (Arctostaphylos pungens),
Pringle manzanita (A. pringlei), silktassels (Garrya spp.), and
Stansbury cliffrose (Purshia mexicana var.  stansburiana) [38,43].

Associates of plains lovegrass in the mixed-grass and shortgrass prairie
of the Southwest include buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides), Indian
ricegrass (Oryzopsis hymenoides), galleta (Hilaria jamesii), prairie
junegrass (Koeleria macrantha), vine-mesquite (Panicum obtusum), alkali
sacaton (Sporobolus airoides), fourwing saltbush (Atriplex canescens),
sagebrush (Artemisia spp.), winterfat (Krascheninnikovia lanata), soapweed
yucca (Yucca glauca), and broom snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae) [12].
  • 12.  Brown, David E. 1982. Plains and Great Basin grasslands. In: Brown,        David E., ed. Biotic communities of the American Southwest--United        States and Mexico. Desert Plants. 4(1-4): 115-121.  [536]
  • 14.  Cable, Dwight R.; Martin, S. Clark. 1975. Vegetation responses to        grazing, rainfall, site condition, and mesquite control on semidesert        range. Res. Pap. RM-149. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment        Station. 24 p.  [4887]
  • 15.  Canfield, R. H. 1948. Perennial grass composition as an indicator of        condition of Southwestern mixed grass ranges. Ecology. 29: 190-204.        [5308]
  • 34.  McPherson, Guy R. 1992. Ecology of oak woodlands in Arizona. In:        Ffolliott, Peter F.; Gottfried, Gerald J.; Bennett, Duane A.; [and        others]
  • 37.  Parker, Kenneth W.; Martin, S. Clark. 1952. The mesquite problem on        southern Arizona ranges. Circular No. 908. Washington, DC: U.S.        Department of Agriculture. 70 p.  [3350]
  • 38.  Pase, Charles P.; Brown, David E. 1982. Interior chaparral. In: Brown,        David E., ed. Biotic communities of the American Southwest--United        States and Mexico. Desert Plants. 4(1-4): 95-99.  [1826]
  • 43.  Szaro, Robert C. 1981. Bird population responses to converting chaparral        to grassland and riparian habitats. Southwestern Naturalist. 26(3):        251-256.  [13675]
  • 47.  Wallmo, O. C. 1955. Vegetation of the Huachuca Mountains, Arizona.        American Midland Naturalist. 54: 466-480.  [20325]
  • 48.  White, Larry D. 1965. The effects of a wildfire on a desert grassland        community. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona. 107 p. Thesis.  [5552]

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Habitat: Plant Associations

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

More info for the term: shrub

   K023  Juniper - pinyon woodland
   K027  Mesquite bosque
   K031  Oak - juniper woodlands
   K044  Creosotebush - tarbush
   K054  Grama - tobosa prairie
   K058  Grama - tobosa shrubsteppe
   K059  Trans-Pecos shrub savanna
   K060  Mesquite savanna
   K069  Bluestem - grama prairie
   K082  Mosaic of K074 and K100
   K085  Mesquite - buffalograss
   K100  Oak - hickory forest
   K112  Southern mixed forest

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Habitat: Ecosystem

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This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

   FRES12  Longleaf - slash pine
   FRES15  Oak - hickory
   FRES30  Desert shrub
   FRES32  Texas savanna
   FRES33  Southwestern shrubsteppe
   FRES34  Chaparral - mountain shrub
   FRES35  Pinyon - juniper
   FRES38  Plains grasslands
   FRES40  Desert grasslands

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Habitat characteristics

Plains lovegrass is found on dry or sandy prairies [25], dry slopes
[19], rocky hillsides, in canyons [29], open woods [24], and on
disturbed sites [49].  Its occurrence is related to topography, but
varies from one area to another.  Plains lovegrass in south-central
Arizona showed a strong positive correlation with slope.  Over 60
percent of occurrences were on slopes steeper than 30 percent [14].  In
southeastern Arizona, plains lovegrass on undisturbed grassland occurred
on level to gently rolling uplands [8].  In northwestern Arizona, plains
lovegrass was found on rocky ledges and among boulders in interior
chaparral [13].

Plains lovegrass grows on most soil textures [15,16,20,21,35,36,48].  In
south-central Arizona it is most productive on sands and sandy loams
with weak profile development.  It shows intermediate productivity on
soil with well developed horizons and clayey subsoils.  It is least
productive on shallow, stony, and cobbly soil [14].

Plains lovegrass often grows in areas where annual precipitation is
bimodal, with a wet season in winter and another in summer.  Over half
the annual rainfall usually occurs in summer, when the bulk of plains
lovegrass forage is produced [47,48].  Spring and fall are generally
characterized by drought [48].  Mean annual precipitation usually
exceeds 15.7 inches (400 mm).  Winters are mild [11,12].

In Arizona, plains lovegrass is found at elevations from 3,500 to 6,000
feet (1,067-1,829 m) [15,29,36,40].  In New Mexico, it grows at
elevations from 3,800 to 8,500 feet (1,158-2,591 m) [21].
  • 11.  Brown, David E. 1982. Madrean evergreen woodland. In: Brown, David E.,        ed.  Biotic communities of the American Southwest--United States and        Mexico. Desert Plants. 4(1-4): 59-65.  [8886]
  • 12.  Brown, David E. 1982. Plains and Great Basin grasslands. In: Brown,        David E., ed. Biotic communities of the American Southwest--United        States and Mexico. Desert Plants. 4(1-4): 115-121.  [536]
  • 13.  Butterwick, Mary; Parfitt, Bruce D.; Hillyard, Deborah. 1992. Vascular        plants of the northern Hualapai Mountains, Arizona. Journal of the        Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science. 24-25: 31-49.  [18327]
  • 14.  Cable, Dwight R.; Martin, S. Clark. 1975. Vegetation responses to        grazing, rainfall, site condition, and mesquite control on semidesert        range. Res. Pap. RM-149. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment        Station. 24 p.  [4887]
  • 15.  Canfield, R. H. 1948. Perennial grass composition as an indicator of        condition of Southwestern mixed grass ranges. Ecology. 29: 190-204.        [5308]
  • 16.  Collins, Scott L.; Uno, Gordon E. 1983. The effect of early spring        burning on vegetation in buffalo wallows. Bulletin of the Torrey        Botanical Club. 110(4): 474-481.  [4352]
  • 19.  Fernald, Merritt Lyndon. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. [Corrections        supplied by R. C. Rollins]
  • 20.  Frost, William E.; Smith, E. Lamar. 1991. Biomass productivity and range        condition on range sites in southern Arizona. Journal of Range        Management. 44(1): 64-67.  [14974]
  • 21.  Gay, Charles W., Jr.; Dwyer, Don D. 1965. New Mexico range plants.        Circular 374. Las Cruces, NM: New Mexico State University, Cooperative        Extension Service. 85 p.  [4039]
  • 24.  Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains.        Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. 1392 p.  [1603]
  • 25.  Hitchcock, A. S. 1951. Manual of the grasses of the United States. Misc.        Publ. No. 200. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture,        Agricultural Research Administration. 1051 p. [2nd edition revised by        Agnes Chase in two volumes. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.]
  • 29.  Kearney, Thomas H.; Peebles, Robert H.; Howell, John Thomas; McClintock,        Elizabeth. 1960. Arizona flora. 2d ed. Berkeley, CA: University of        California Press. 1085 p.  [6563]
  • 35.  Moir, William H. 1979. Soil-vegetation patterns in the central        Peloncillo Mountains, New Mexico. American Midland Naturalist. 102(2):        317-331.  [4634]
  • 36.  Nyandiga, Charles O.; McPherson, Guy R. 1992. Germination of two        warm-temperature oaks, Quercus emoryi and Quercus arizonica. Canadian        Journal of Forest Research. 22: 1395-1401.  [19685]
  • 40.  Reynolds, Hudson G. 1962. Some characteristics and uses of Arizona's        major plant communities. Journal of the Arizona Academy of Science. 2:        62-71.  [1959]
  • 47.  Wallmo, O. C. 1955. Vegetation of the Huachuca Mountains, Arizona.        American Midland Naturalist. 54: 466-480.  [20325]
  • 48.  White, Larry D. 1965. The effects of a wildfire on a desert grassland        community. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona. 107 p. Thesis.  [5552]
  • 49.  Wunderlin, Richard P. 1982. Guide to the vascular plants of central        Florida. Tampa, FL: University Presses of Florida, University of South        Florida. 472 p.  [13125]
  • 8.  Bock, Jane H.; Bock, Carl E. 1986. Habitat relationships of some native        perennial grasses in southeastern Arizona. Desert Plants. 8(1): 3-14.        [478]

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Habitat: Cover Types

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

    40  Post oak - blackjack oak
    68  Mesquite
    83  Longleaf pine - slash pine
   239  Pinyon - juniper
   241  Western live oak
   242  Mesquite

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Dispersal

Establishment

Growth starts in the early spring. Because this grass has a high seed stalk to leaf ratio, it is a low forage producer. It is seldom found in pure stands, but is generally scattered throughout the plant community. It grows on dry upland soils ranging from clay to sand.

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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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General Ecology

Fire Management Implications

More info for the term: cover

Plains lovegrass usually declines the first growing season after fire,
but by the second growing season it has regained or exceeded its
original cover. This fire study was part of an extensive of body of
research on fire effects in semidesert grassland, oak savanna, and
Madrean oak woodlands of southeastern Arizona. See the Research Project Summary of this work for more information on burning
conditions, fires, and fire effects on more than 100 species of plants,
birds, small mammals, and grasshoppers.

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Fire Management Considerations

More info for the terms: density, fuel, natural, prescribed fire, succession

In interior chaparral in Arizona, presettlement fire intervals were
usually 50 to 100 years.  Postfire succession is rapid and species
composition is changed little by natural fires [38].

Burning can be used in desert grassland ranges to reduce the number of
shrubs competing with plains lovegrass and other perennial grasses [48].
Grazing should be deferred before burning to insure enough fuel to carry
fire [50,51].
 
Plains lovegrass was subjected to prescribed fire in ungrazed
southeastern Arizona grassland.  The fire had no persistent negative
impact on plains lovegrass density [10].
  • 10.  Bock, Jane H.; Bock, Carl E. 1992. Short-term reduction in plant        densities following prescribed fire in an ungrazed semidesert        shrub-grassland. Southwestern Naturalist. 37(1): 49-53.  [18651]
  • 38.  Pase, Charles P.; Brown, David E. 1982. Interior chaparral. In: Brown,        David E., ed. Biotic communities of the American Southwest--United        States and Mexico. Desert Plants. 4(1-4): 95-99.  [1826]
  • 48.  White, Larry D. 1965. The effects of a wildfire on a desert grassland        community. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona. 107 p. Thesis.  [5552]
  • 50.  Bohrer, Vorsila L. 1992. New life from ashes II: A tale of burnt brush.        Desert Plants. 10(3): 122-125.  [18805]
  • 51.  Humphrey, Robert R. 1974. Fire in the deserts and desert grassland of        North America. In: Kozlowski, T. T.; Ahlgren, C. E., eds. Fire and        ecosystems. New York: Academic Press: 365-400.  [14064]

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Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: basal area, cover, density, frequency, litter, prescribed fire, relative dominance, relative frequency, wildfire

Plains lovegrass abundance was lower on burned than unburned sites
during the first growing season after prescribed fire in Kerr County,
Texas. Plateau oak (Quercus fusiformis) and post oak (Q. stellata)
savanna containing plains lovegrass was burned between 12:30 and
1:15 p.m. on February 1, 1982.  Air temperature was 55 degrees
Fahrenheit (12.8 deg C), relative humidity was 42 to 48 percent, and
wind speed was 10 to 32 miles per hour (16-51 km/hr).  Highest recorded
fire temperatures were at the litter surface.  Maximum temperature was
412 degrees Fahrenheit (211 deg C) at the litter surface in the grasslands
surrounding trees. Temperatures above and below the litter surface were
substantially lower.  In July and early August 1982, samples from quadrats
in control and burned units were collected.  Plains lovegrass biomass was
lower on burned than on control sites.  Dominance (lbs/ac), relative
dominance (%), relative frequency, and importance are reported [28]:

                               Relative   Relative
                        Dom      Dom        Freq      Importance

   Plateau Oak Units
     Control           10.08     6.12       8.09         7.10       
     Burn               3.97     3.37       7.69         5.53
   Post Oak Units                                                      
     Control            5.95     3.33       8.70         6.01       
     Burn               5.43     2.97       6.89         4.92

The Research Project Summary Response of herbaceous vegetation to winter
burning in Texas oak savanna
provides information on postfire response of
other herbaceous species in this study.

Plains lovegrass decreased the first growing season following a fire in
south-central Arizona desert grassland, but then increased.  In June
1963 a wildfire burned a 17-square-mile area in Pima County near Sasabe,
Arizona.  After the fire, study sites were located on burned and
unburned slopes at elevations from 4,000 to 4,400 feet (1,219-1,341 m).
Indicators of plains lovegrass basal area (basal area index) before and
for two growing seasons following the fire showed that plains lovegrass
was at first reduced as a result of the fire.  However, by the second
growing season, it equaled or exceeded prefire density [48]:

                           Basal Area Index

          West-facing        North-facing        East-facing
             Sites              Sites               Sites

         Burned  Control    Burned  Control        Burned 

Prefire    0.7     0.7        0.5     0.2            0.8 
1963       0.2     0.4        0.2     0.1            0.3 
1964       1.0     0.5        0.6     0.3            0.8 

The numbers of plains lovegrass plants measured along transects
decreased on burned areas in postfire year 1.  In postfire year 2,
plains lovegrass numbers increased slightly on control sites, but the
increases on burned sites were significantly greater than on control
sites [48]:

          West-facing        North-facing        East-facing
             Sites              Sites               Sites

         Burned  Control    Burned  Control        Burned 

Prefire    19      18         10       8             29   
1963       10      16          9       7             22   
1964       76      30         52      25             71   

Plains lovegrass on the north slope burned area had significantly more
seedstalks and fewer plants without seedstalks during the second growing
season than did the control area.  Plains lovegrass apparently was well
adapted to utilize the above normal winter precipitation of 1963.
Greater seedling survival and larger plants occurred on the north and
west study areas, which received more favorable precipitation, than on
the east study area [48].

Plains lovegrass was more plentiful in recent than old burns in
southwestern Oklahoma prairie and buffalo wallows.  Plains lovegrass was
common on plots close to and in buffalo wallows.  The wallows and
surrounding land were first prescribed burned in early April 1979; some
were burned again in late February 1982.  Sampling occurred between late
June and early July 1982.  At the time of sampling all wallows had 2 to
4 inches (5-10 cm) of standing water.  Exterior quadrats were placed
just adjacent to wallows for comparison of compositional differences
between wallow and other prairie vegetation.  Plains lovegrass was found
only outside the eight buffalo wallows burned in 1972, with average
cover of 43.6 percent.  It occurred throughout the six recently burned
wallows (average cover 18.6% on burned land outside the wallows, 17.3%
at the edge of the burned wallows, and 4.0% in the interior of the
burned wallows) [16].
  • 16.  Collins, Scott L.; Uno, Gordon E. 1983. The effect of early spring        burning on vegetation in buffalo wallows. Bulletin of the Torrey        Botanical Club. 110(4): 474-481.  [4352]
  • 28.  Hutcheson, Ann-Marie; Baccus, John T.; McClean, Terry M.; Fonteyn, Paul        J. 1989. Response of herbaceous vegetation to prescribed burning in the        Hill Country of Texas. Texas Journal of Agriculture and Natural        Resources. 3: 42-47.  [17777]
  • 48.  White, Larry D. 1965. The effects of a wildfire on a desert grassland        community. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona. 107 p. Thesis.  [5552]

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Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: cover, frequency, wildfire

Plains lovegrass frequency decreases the first year after fire [28], but
generally increases thereafter [7,9,48].  Seedstalk production sometimes
increases after fire [48].

Plains lovegrass on native grassland in southeastern Arizona was burned
in a July 16 to 17, 1987, wildfire.  When measured in August 1987, it
was reduced to one-third of its prefire cover.  However, by August 1988,
plains lovegrass cover had increased over prefire levels.  By August
1990, it had increased to twice its prefire cover [4,7].
  • 28.  Hutcheson, Ann-Marie; Baccus, John T.; McClean, Terry M.; Fonteyn, Paul        J. 1989. Response of herbaceous vegetation to prescribed burning in the        Hill Country of Texas. Texas Journal of Agriculture and Natural        Resources. 3: 42-47.  [17777]
  • 4.  Bock, Carl E.; Bock, Jane H. 1992. Response of birds to wildfire in        native versus exotic Arizona grassland. Southwestern Naturalist. 37(1):        73-81.  [18594]
  • 48.  White, Larry D. 1965. The effects of a wildfire on a desert grassland        community. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona. 107 p. Thesis.  [5552]
  • 7.  Bock, J. H.; Bock, C. E. 1992. Vegetation responses to wildfire in        native versus exotic Arizona grassland. Journal of Vegetation Science.        3: 439-446.  [20082]
  • 9.  Bock, Jane H.; Bock, Carl E. 1987. Fire effects following prescribed        burning in two desert ecosystems. Final Report on Cooperative Agreement        No. 28-03-278. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest        Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 20 p.        [12321]

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Immediate Effect of Fire

Plains lovegrass culms and leaves are killed by fire.

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Post-fire Regeneration

More info for the terms: secondary colonizer, tussock

   Tussock graminoid
   Secondary colonizer - on-site seed

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Fire Ecology

More info for the term: culm

Plains lovegrass has basal culm buds [24] which may sprout after aerial
portions are burned.  If thick tufts form, they may protect the basal
buds from fire damage.
  • 24.  Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains.        Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. 1392 p.  [1603]

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Successional Status

More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: cover, shrub, succession

Plains lovegrass is apparently not tolerant of dense cover.  In Arizona,
plains lovegrass is not abundant in interior chaparral with dense crown
cover (>70%) except in the scattered interscrub openings, on rocky
outcrops, or in early postfire succession [38].  Plains lovegrass did
occur in chaparral with shrub cover of 60.5 percent and average herb
cover of 12.4 percent.  The sparse herb layer was composed of plains
lovegrass and red brome (Bromus rubens) [43].
  • 38.  Pase, Charles P.; Brown, David E. 1982. Interior chaparral. In: Brown,        David E., ed. Biotic communities of the American Southwest--United        States and Mexico. Desert Plants. 4(1-4): 95-99.  [1826]
  • 43.  Szaro, Robert C. 1981. Bird population responses to converting chaparral        to grassland and riparian habitats. Southwestern Naturalist. 26(3):        251-256.  [13675]

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Regeneration Processes

Plains lovegrass sprouts from perennating buds at the bases of culms
[24].  It also reproduces by seed [25].  Dispersal occurs when the
large, loose, fruiting stalks detach and tumble across the ground,
releasing seed [8].

Plains lovegrass seeds were collected from plants growing at two
semidesert grassland sites in south-central Arizona, one not irrigated
and one irrigated.  Rate of germination was tested 7 months after
harvest.  The seeds from irrigated land were germinable (18%) in the
laboratory at moderate temperature alternations representative of wet
seedbeds in April (50/86 degrees Fahrenheit [10/30 deg C]).  However,
maximum germination (47%) occurred at temperature alternations of 68/104
degrees Fahrenheit (20/40 deg C), which is similar to wet seedbed
temperature extremes during the summer rainy period when plains
lovegrass usually emerges.  Plains lovegrass seeds from unirrigated
plants had much lower germination rates than those from irrigated
plants.  Germination response varied with seed collection year [41].
  • 24.  Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains.        Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. 1392 p.  [1603]
  • 25.  Hitchcock, A. S. 1951. Manual of the grasses of the United States. Misc.        Publ. No. 200. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture,        Agricultural Research Administration. 1051 p. [2nd edition revised by        Agnes Chase in two volumes. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.]
  • 41.  Roundy, Bruce A.; Young, James A.; Sumrall, Lee B.; Livingston,        Margaret. 1992. Laboratory germination responses of 3 love-grasses to        temperature in relation to seedbed temperatures. Journal of Range        Management. 45(3): 306-311.  [16430]
  • 8.  Bock, Jane H.; Bock, Carl E. 1986. Habitat relationships of some native        perennial grasses in southeastern Arizona. Desert Plants. 8(1): 3-14.        [478]

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Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)

More info on this topic.

More info for the term: hemicryptophyte

  
   Hemicryptophyte

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Life Form

More info for the term: graminoid

Graminoid

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Site Description

The study sites have 17 inches (430 mm) average annual precipitation,
with half to two-thirds occurring between July and September.  Elevation
is 4,922 feet (1,500 m).  At the time of the study no fires or grazing
had occurred at the sites since 1969.

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Season/Severity Classification

spring/moderate

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

More info on this topic.

More info for the term: tiller

Plains lovegrass growth starts in early spring; it is one of the first
herbs to green up [31].

Plains lovegrass blooms in spring in central Florida [49] and from June
to September in Arizona [29].  Seed dispersal in Arizona begins in late
summer [8].

A minimum of 2 years is required for plains lovegrass to tiller.  Culms
produced during the current summer originated as basal buds that broke
dormancy either during the preceding spring, or more commonly, the
preceding fall.  A wet fall, or a wet winter and spring, activates basal
buds and enlarges individual plants.  Two good rainfall summers in
succession, or a good rainfall summer preceded by an exceptionally wet
spring, can be expected to produce high forage yields.  Production will
be low in drought years because few culms are produced [32].
  • 29.  Kearney, Thomas H.; Peebles, Robert H.; Howell, John Thomas; McClintock,        Elizabeth. 1960. Arizona flora. 2d ed. Berkeley, CA: University of        California Press. 1085 p.  [6563]
  • 31.  Leithead, Horace L.; Yarlett, Lewis L.; Shiflet, Thomas N. 1971. 100        native forage grasses in 11 southern states. Agric. Handb. 389.        Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 216 p.        [17552]
  • 32.  Martin, S. Clark. 1975. Ecology and management of Southwestern        semidesert grass-shrub ranges: the status of our knowledge. Res. Pap.        RM-156. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest        Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 39 p.        [1538]
  • 49.  Wunderlin, Richard P. 1982. Guide to the vascular plants of central        Florida. Tampa, FL: University Presses of Florida, University of South        Florida. 472 p.  [13125]
  • 8.  Bock, Jane H.; Bock, Carl E. 1986. Habitat relationships of some native        perennial grasses in southeastern Arizona. Desert Plants. 8(1): 3-14.        [478]

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Eragrostis intermedia

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Eragrostis intermedia

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Status

Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status, such as, state noxious status and wetland indicator values.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Management

Management considerations

More info for the term: cover

Plains lovegrass has decreased in abundance in Arizona.  This reduction
is probably the result of long-continued grazing.  Because of its
palatability and early greening habit, plains lovegrass is often
overgrazed in early spring [26].  To renew its vigor [31] and also allow
for seed production and establishment of seedlings [32], plains lovegrass
should be rested from grazing during July and August about every third
year [31].

In southeastern Arizona, plains lovegrass was measured in 1983 on
grassland ungrazed since 1968 and on adjacent grazed grassland.  Plains
lovegrass was increasing on the ungrazed area, but not on adjacent
grazed sites. In an area ungrazed since the early 1950's, plains
lovegrass occurred in dense, nearly pure stands [8].  In the same area
in 1990, plains lovegrass made up 15 percent of canopy cover on ungrazed
quadrats, but only 5 percent on grazed quadrats [5].  The grass canopy
was significantly taller (p less than .01) where it was protected from grazing.
Plains lovegrass is not found in pure stands in areas where it is grazed
[31].

Plains lovegrass production in southern Arizona semidesert grasslands is
related to current summer rainfall and also to rainfall during previous
growing periods [32].  (See SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT)

Plains lovegrass in southwestern semidesert grass-shrub ranges is
favored by light to moderate grazing.  When overgrazed, the plants lose
vigor, die, and are replaced by less palatable species [32].  Plains
lovegrass is a component of Southern Plains grasslands which, when
overgrazed, are invaded by large-shrub monocultures and/or by short
semishrubs [12].  Plains lovegrass in south-central Arizona grasslands
has been greatly reduced where mesquite (Prosopis spp.) has invaded the
range [37].

In the Southwest, plains lovegrass and other native species do not
reestablish in areas planted with the African species Lehmann and
weeping lovegrass (Eragrostis lehmanniana and E. curvula).  In
southeastern Arizona, areas of the Appleton-Whittell Research Sanctuary
were seeded with mixtures of Lehmann and weeping lovegrass in the 1940's
and 1950's.  By 1984, African lovegrasses covered more than 50 percent
of the ground; native grass cover was reduced by nearly 60 percent.
Plains lovegrass was one of the indigenous grasses significantly
reduced.  Nearby unseeded areas supported mixtures of native herbs,
shrubs, and perennial grasses including plains lovegrass.  Since cattle
were removed in 1968, species-rich plant assemblages have developed on
the Sanctuary in all areas except those planted with African lovegrasses
[6].

Plains lovegrass seed is available commercially [17].
  • 12.  Brown, David E. 1982. Plains and Great Basin grasslands. In: Brown,        David E., ed. Biotic communities of the American Southwest--United        States and Mexico. Desert Plants. 4(1-4): 115-121.  [536]
  • 17.  Davenport Seed Corporation. 1993. Davenport Seed Corporation catalog.        Davenport, WA. 24 p.  [21135]
  • 26.  Humphrey, Robert R. 1970. Arizona range grasses: Their description,        forage value and management. Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona        Press. 159 p.  [5567]
  • 31.  Leithead, Horace L.; Yarlett, Lewis L.; Shiflet, Thomas N. 1971. 100        native forage grasses in 11 southern states. Agric. Handb. 389.        Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 216 p.        [17552]
  • 32.  Martin, S. Clark. 1975. Ecology and management of Southwestern        semidesert grass-shrub ranges: the status of our knowledge. Res. Pap.        RM-156. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest        Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 39 p.        [1538]
  • 37.  Parker, Kenneth W.; Martin, S. Clark. 1952. The mesquite problem on        southern Arizona ranges. Circular No. 908. Washington, DC: U.S.        Department of Agriculture. 70 p.  [3350]
  • 5.  Bock, Carl E.; Bock, Jane H. 1993. Cover of perennial grasses in        southeastern Arizona in relation to livestock grazing. [Journal name        unknown]
  • 6.  Sorenson, Frank C.; Adams, W. T. 1993. Self fertility and natural        selfing in three Oregon Cascade populations of lodgepole pine. In:        Lindgren, D., ed. Pinus contorta--from untamed forest to domesticated        crop; Proceedings of a meeting with IUFRO working party S2.02-06: Pinus        contorta provenances and breeding and Frans Kempe symposium; 1992 August        24-28; Umea, Sweden. Umea, Sweden: Swedish University of Agricultural        Sciences, Department of Forest Genetics and Plant Physiology: [Report        11]
  • 8.  Bock, Jane H.; Bock, Carl E. 1986. Habitat relationships of some native        perennial grasses in southeastern Arizona. Desert Plants. 8(1): 3-14.        [478]

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Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)

Please contact your local NRCS Field Office.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Proper management of other associated grasses keeps lovegrass vigorous.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Nutritional Value

Plains lovegrass was collected in Sutton County, Texas, in 1973.
Nutrient composition (percent) of leaves and stems was as follows [27]:

           Water    Ash    Cell Wall   Phosphorus   Protein   DOM*

July        59       8        70          0.12         7       52  
October     54       7        69          0.09         6       50
November    37       9        72          0.11         5       37

*DOM:  Digestible Organic Matter
  • 27.  Huston, J. E.; Rector, B. S.; Merrill, L. B.; Engdahl, B. S. 1981.        Nutritional value of range plants in the Edwards Plateau region of        Texas. Report B-1375. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University System,        Texas Agricultural Experiment Station. 16 p.  [4565]

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Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

Plains lovegrass produces quality forage on the grazing lands of Arizona
and New Mexico [23,25,26].  It is an important cattle forage species in
oak woodland of southern Arizona [33].  However, because it has a high
seedstalk to leaf ratio it is a relatively low forage producer [31].

Cattle in south-central Arizona ate plains lovegrass at 45 percent of
availability.  Plains lovegrass was intermediate in preference and
production compared to other grasses growing on the range [14].

Upland game birds eat plains lovegrass seeds [31,46].
  • 14.  Cable, Dwight R.; Martin, S. Clark. 1975. Vegetation responses to        grazing, rainfall, site condition, and mesquite control on semidesert        range. Res. Pap. RM-149. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment        Station. 24 p.  [4887]
  • 23.  Gould, Frank W.; Shaw, Robert B. 1983. Grass systematics. 2d ed. College        Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press. 397 p.  [5667]
  • 25.  Hitchcock, A. S. 1951. Manual of the grasses of the United States. Misc.        Publ. No. 200. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture,        Agricultural Research Administration. 1051 p. [2nd edition revised by        Agnes Chase in two volumes. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.]
  • 26.  Humphrey, Robert R. 1970. Arizona range grasses: Their description,        forage value and management. Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona        Press. 159 p.  [5567]
  • 31.  Leithead, Horace L.; Yarlett, Lewis L.; Shiflet, Thomas N. 1971. 100        native forage grasses in 11 southern states. Agric. Handb. 389.        Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 216 p.        [17552]
  • 33.  McClaran, Mitchel P.; Allen, Larry S.; Ruyle, George B. 1992. Livestock        production and grazing management in the encinal oak woodlands of        Arizona. In: Ffolliott, Peter F.; Gottfried, Gerald J.; Bennett, Duane        A.; [and others]
  • 46.  Voigt, P. W.; Oaks, Wendall. 1985. Lovegrasses, dropseeds, and other        desert and subtropical grasses. In: Range plant improvement in western        North America: Proceedings of a symposium at the annual meeting of the        Society for Range Management; 1985 February 14; Salt Lake City, UT.        Denver, CO: Society for Range Management: 70-79.  [4387]

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Palatability

Plains lovegrass is palatable [46].  Even on steeper slopes it is often
the first species to be grazed [26].
  • 26.  Humphrey, Robert R. 1970. Arizona range grasses: Their description,        forage value and management. Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona        Press. 159 p.  [5567]
  • 46.  Voigt, P. W.; Oaks, Wendall. 1985. Lovegrasses, dropseeds, and other        desert and subtropical grasses. In: Range plant improvement in western        North America: Proceedings of a symposium at the annual meeting of the        Society for Range Management; 1985 February 14; Salt Lake City, UT.        Denver, CO: Society for Range Management: 70-79.  [4387]

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Uses

Plains lovegrass provides good forage for livestock. Its seeds are eaten by upland game birds. Because it usually makes up a small percentage of the forage production on any site, it is seldom a key management species.

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Wikipedia

Eragrostis intermedia

Eragrostis intermedia is a species of grass known by the common name plains lovegrass. It is native to North and Central America, where it is distributed from the southeastern and southwestern United States south to Costa Rica.[1] Its range may extend to South America.[2]

This grass grows in tufts up to 90 centimeters tall,[1] sometimes exceeding one meter.[2] The leaves are up to 25 centimeters long. The inflorescence is a panicle with a pyramidal[1] or ovate shape.[2] The spikelets have up to 11 flowers each. The plant reproduces by seed or by sprouting from buds at the stem bases.[1]

This plant grows in desert grassland, prairie, chaparral, shrubsteppe, pinyon-juniper woodland, and oak-dominated woodlands. It is often found in dry, sloping areas. It can take hold easily in disturbed habitat. It does best in sandy soil types, and areas with bimodal precipitation patterns, having wet seasons in winter and summer. In its native habitat it is one of the first plants to turn green in the spring.[1] It has been observed to increase in abundance after wildfire.[3]

This grass makes a good forage for livestock, but it decreases with overgrazing. Some game birds have been noted to eat the seeds.[1]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f Walsh, Roberta A. 1994. Eragrostis intermedia. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory.
  2. ^ a b c Eragrostis intermedia. Grass Manual Treatment.
  3. ^ Bock, C. E., et al. (1995). Effects of fire on abundance of Eragrostis intermedia in a semi-arid grassland in southeastern Arizona. Journal of Vegetation Science 6(3) 325-28.
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Correll and Johnston (1972) include Eragrostis intermedia in E. lugens. The Great Plains Flora (1986) questions its validity as a species.

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The currently accepted scientific name of plains lovegrass is Eragrostis
intermedia A. S. Hitchc. [25,29,49]. It is in the family Poaceae.
There are no currently accepted infrataxa.
  • 25.  Hitchcock, A. S. 1951. Manual of the grasses of the United States. Misc.        Publ. No. 200. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture,        Agricultural Research Administration. 1051 p. [2nd edition revised by        Agnes Chase in two volumes. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.]
  • 29.  Kearney, Thomas H.; Peebles, Robert H.; Howell, John Thomas; McClintock,        Elizabeth. 1960. Arizona flora. 2d ed. Berkeley, CA: University of        California Press. 1085 p.  [6563]
  • 49.  Wunderlin, Richard P. 1982. Guide to the vascular plants of central        Florida. Tampa, FL: University Presses of Florida, University of South        Florida. 472 p.  [13125]

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Common Names

plains lovegrass

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