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Eragrostis spectabilis

Eragrostis spectabilis (Pursh) Steud.

Eragrostis spectabilis (Pursh) Steud. var. sparsihirsuta Farw.

Poa spectabilis Pursh

Purple Love Grass

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassLiliopsidaMonocots (plants with a single seed leaf); includes the lily family
SubclassCommelinidaeDayflowers and spiderworts, and several others
OrderCyperalesFlowering plants including grasses
FamilyPoaceaeGrasses (but not sedges or rushes)
GenusEragrostisThe common explanation of this name is that it derives from the Greek eros, “love,” and agrostis, “grass,” of unknown application but giving the genus its common name of “lovegrass.” However, according to Umberto Quattrocchi, others have suggested that it actually derives from the Greek era, “earth.”
SpeciesspectabilisSpectacular

About plant names...

Purple lovegrass has some pretty strange common names. Sure, the purple part makes sense: when this grass flowers, it creates zillions of tiny purple flowers that resemble a purple mist floating a few inches above the grass. (Is this where “purple haze” comes from?) And “tumblegrass” makes sense too, since the whole cluster of flowers even­tually turns to seeds and detaches, and, nearly weightless, blows around like tumbleweeds. But lovegrass? What’s that about? Turns out that most sources assume the genus name derives from the Greek words for “love” and “grass.” But the Greek era means “earth,” so it may well be that this genus name actually means “earth grass.” Purple lovegrass prefers roadsides, railroad beds, sandy fields, and waste places.

Plants: Appears in low tufts 8-18" (20-45 cm) tall. Stems, called culms, are cylindrical and unbranched, with 3-4 leaves that mostly cover the stem. It is a type of bunch grass.

Leaves: Leaves are up to 10" (25 cm) long and ⅛-¼" (3-8 mm) in width, bluish or grayish green. Typically they are hairless except near the base. Higher up, fine branchlets extend multiply from the main branch, supporting the diminutive flowers.

Flowers: Flowers form a red-purple cloud up to about 15" (38 cm) × 18" (45 cm). If you look carefully, the cloud resolves into tiny spikelets on tinier pedicels. Each spikelet is ⅛-¼" (4-7 mm) long, flat, and about ¹/₃₂" (1 mm) wide. Although most flowers are red-purple, some are olive green. Flowers appear from July to August.

Fruits: “Tumbleweeds” of tiny seeds.

Online References:

Eragrostis spectabilis on illinoiswildflowers.info

Eragrostis spectabilis at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Eragrostis spectabilis at Minnesota Wildflowers

Eragrostis spectabilis at the Missouri Botanical Garden

Eragrostis spectabilis at Kansas Native Plants

Eragrostis spectabilis on newyork.plantatlas.usf.edu

Eragrostis spectabilis (Purple Love Grass)

8/7/2013 · Amos Kendall Conservation Land, Dunstable, MA
≈ 11 × 7" (28 × 18 cm)

Eragrostis spectabilis description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 30 Jun 2019.

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Eragrostis spectabilis (Purple Love Grass)

8/16/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton, MA
≈ 9 × 6" (22 × 14 cm) ID is uncertain

Eragrostis spectabilis (Purple Love Grass)

8/19/2018 · Townsend Wildlife Management Area, Townsend, MA
≈ 31 × 21" (78 × 52 cm)

Eragrostis spectabilis (Purple Love Grass)

8/19/2018 · Townsend Wildlife Management Area, Townsend, MA
≈ 8 × 5" (20 × 13 cm)

Eragrostis spectabilis (Purple Love Grass)

8/16/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton, MA
≈ 9 × 6" (23 × 15 cm) ID is uncertain

Eragrostis spectabilis (Purple Love Grass)

8/16/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton, MA
≈ 12 × 8" (31 × 20 cm) ID is uncertain

Range:

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