Love-grasses

Purple Love-grass Strong-scented Love-grass Purple Love-grass Strong-scented Love-grass

What are they?

Love-grasses are a rather mixed bunch of grasses which, on a worldwide scale are largely tropical or sub-tropical. Though they have similarities in their flowers, overall there is no common thread in the general appearance of the species.

Where are they found?

Generally found in dry, open places or as annuals in disturbed ground.

Identification

The great variation in appearance makes this a difficult group to define, but several species are rather unique in appearance and thus readily recognizable in themselves. For species recognition, see the individual species comments.



Weeping Love-grass      Eragrostis curvula

A native of South Africa, this species was ill-advisedly planted widely as a soil erosion control species. Unsurprisingly, it was not long before the species was spreading of its own accord and is becoming a serious invasive species in some areas, especially south of the Cape May canal. Flowers August to September. Easily recognised by its persistent, wiry leaves which form dense clumps of vegetation and remain golden-brown through the winter. Flower heads often tinged blackish purple.
Weeping Love-grass Weeping Love-grass Weeping Love-grass Weeping Love-grass
Habit
Flower spike
Flower spikelets
Winter foliage

Lace Love-grass      Eragrostis capillaris

Though a native species, this grass is often found in disturbed ground on roadsides and other waste areas. Flowers July to September. A densely tufted, annual grace with large, open panicles of many-branched flowerheads. The florets themselves are small and appear in short clusters at the ends of long branches.
Lace Love-grass Lace Love-grass Lace Love-grass
Habit
Spikelet close-up
Leaf sheaths coarsely hairy

Indian Love-grass      Eragrostis pilosa

A Pan-tropical species of uncertain native distribution, but introduced in New Jersey. A fairly common species of roadsides and waste places. Flowers June to September. A small and easily over-looked species, best told from the very similar Tufted Love-grass by the lower node of the flower spike which has a whorl (not a pair) of several branches.
Indian Love-grass Indian Love-grass Indian Love-grass
Flower spike
Lowest node of
flower spike whorled
Flower spikelets close-up

Tufted Love-grass      Eragrostis pectinacea

A small, weedy species of roadsides and waste places. Flowers July to October. A small and easily over-looked species, best told from the very similar Indian Love-grass by the lower node of the flower spike which has a pair(not a whorl) of branches.
Tufted Love-grass Tufted Love-grass Tufted Love-grass Tufted Love-grass
Habit
Flower spike
Flower spikelets close-up
Tuft of hairs opposite leaf
typical of Eragrostis grasses

Strong-scented Love-grass      Eragrostis cilianensis

(Stinkgrass) Introduced from Europe. A fairly common species of waste places and other areas of disturbed ground. Flowers July to September. The whole plant has a rather unpleasant odour when crushed. Flower heads have a silvery lustre to them.
Strong-scented Love-grass Strong-scented Love-grass Strong-scented Love-grass Strong-scented Love-grass
Flower spike
Flower spike
Spikelet close-up
Leaf ligule

Purple Love-grass      Eragrostis spectabilis

A fairly common native species found occasionally in small, scattered colonies in dry, sandy soils along roadsides, field edges and other open areas. Flowers July to October. A small species, usually under a foot high and would be easily overlooked but for its bright reddish-purple, foamy flower spikes.
Purple Love-grass Purple Love-grass Purple Love-grass Purple Love-grass
Habit
Flower spike
Flower close-up
Hair tufts in axils
of flower spike

Plains Love-grass      Eragrostis intermedia

(Bigtop Love-grass) A plant that is native of further west in North America, this species appears to be spreading eastward, with the first Cape May records coming in 2013. It should be looked for in any open, grassy areas, especially on disturbed ground, old fields and roadsides. Flowers July to October. A spectacular species that may gain popularity as a garden plant, as the flowering stems can be up to three feet long or more.
Plains Love-grass Plains Love-grass Plains Love-grass Plains Love-grass
Habit
Flower spike
Flower close-up
Hair tufts in axils
of flower spike