Eastern Gamma Grass

Eastern Gamma Grass
Eastern Gama Grass

Today I am sharing a few photos of Eastern Gama Grass (Tripsacum dactyloides), an interesting plant that grows in abundance at Shaw Nature Reserve.  This warm-season grass has a C4 metabolism and can grow in a wide variety of habitats.  Due to its use as a forage crop, man has introduced this perennial plant across the Americas.  Gama Grass is a distant relative of maize, separating approximately 60,000 years ago.  The inflorescence of the plant can be seen above.  Whereas maize has its male and female flowers borne on separate spikes, Gama Grass carries its flowers on separate sections of the same terminal spikes.  You can see the exposed anthers towards the upper 75% of the spike, while the developing seed are located in the lighter green sections nearest the stem.  The photograph below shows a closeup of the exposed stigmas, waiting for the wind-borne pollen.

Gama Grass Stigma
Gama Grass Stigma

In the final image, you can see a grape vine using a Gama Grass spike for its support.



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