Friday, August 18, 2017

Red on the Roadside

This photo does not do justice.  I should have snapped one on the on-ramp.

Purple Love Grass (aka Petticoat Climber), Eragrostis spectabilis, has reached peak color.  This low, delicately-formed grass is common beside highways and especially highway ramps hereabouts, blanketing them in low, filmy clouds of red.

I'd always thought this grass was native, but it actually hails from Canada, though it has become naturalized over most of the US, including virtually all of the states east of the Rockies.  So I am content to grant this naturalized citizen "honorary native" status.

The name Petticoat Climber derives, I was taught, from the tendency of the top of the fruiting stalk to break loose and cling to clothing--likely an adaptation that would help it spread if it clung briefly to animal fur.

This grass should continue to decorate our roadsides into September.

 Flowers are in tiny clusters of half-a-dozen.

 A single plant doesn't look like much (though you will learn to spot them if you once see one).  Massed, they are quite a sight.

The sparse and delicate inflorescence is large, but close to the ground. 
(Photo is about fifteen inches tall.)

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