CPC Plant Profile: Hirsts' Panicgrass
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Plant Profile

Hirsts' Panicgrass (Dichanthelium hirstii)

Description
  • Global Rank: N/A
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Poaceae
  • State: DE, GA, NC, NJ
  • Nature Serve ID: 161675
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 04/04/1991

Panicum hirstii is a stiffly erect panic grass that grows 20 - 60 cm (8 - 23 in) tall. The taxon inhabits sandy pine woods and pond shores of the coastal plain barrens of New Jersey, Delaware, and North Carolina. It is also found in limestone depression ponds and shallow Cypress ponds of Georgia. Threats to this species come mainly from habitat alteration for development and changing hydrology of coastal ponds. Research and Management Summary: Taxonomic work and germination studies have been performed for this species, and some monitoring of populations has occurred. Plant Description: Panicum hirstii grows from clustered culms. The inflorescence, or panicle, is 3-10 cm (1-4 in) long and sparsely flowered with finely hairy spikelets; panicles sometimes stay hidden among the densely branched stems. The leaf blades are 3 - 12 cm (1 - 4.7 in) long and 2 - 7 mm (0.08 - 0.3 in) wide and variably smooth or hairy.

Participating Institutions
Updates
  • 09/08/2020
  • Demographic Research

Karen Bennett of the Delaware Natural Heritage Program has monitored Panicum hirstii in that state. Taxonomic work on the species is ongoing. Although the taxon was first described as Panicum hirstii by Swallen (1961), Kartesz (1999) has placed the taxon into Dichanthelium while maintaining its distinct species epithet, a placement that accords with other research (Schuyler 1996). Richard LeBlond, Inventory Specialist with the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program is further investigating the taxonomy of the Panicoid grasses for the North Carolina flora. Writing in 1991 (unpublished), LeBlond said that the variability in characters suggest ""the possibility of a topoclinal relationship between Panicum neuranthum and P. hirstii, the two diverging genetically and in habitat preference northward from Florida to New Jersey [however] the combination of wider autumnal leaves and included autumnal panicles in Dicanthelium = P. hirstii does not occur in any other Dicanthelium entity.""

  • 09/08/2020
  • Propagation Research

The New England Wild Flower Society (Framingham, Massachusetts) has collected seeds, but despite repeated attempts, has not been able to germinate seed successfully.

  • 09/08/2020
  • Seed Collection

The New England Wild Flower Society (Framingham, Massachusetts) has collected seeds, but despite repeated attempts, has not been able to germinate seed successfully.

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Only five occurrences of this grass are known recently extant, one each in Delaware, New Jersey, and Georgia, and two in North Carolina. The species was rediscovered in Georgia in 2014, after not being observered for more than 30 years. Populations at the two documented sites in New Jersey have drastically declined for unknown reasons, and may be gone from one of the sites; in the late 1950's these populations consisted of hundreds of individuals, but in recent years only a single clump with three fruiting stems has been observed. Numbers at a site fluctuate annually, with the total global population currently estimated at less than 1000 individual plants in most years, and only a few thousand in the best years.

Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
  • 01/01/2010

Threats are largely unknown. Populations in New Jersey have declined precipitously, but the reasons for this remain elusive. The following factors may be important but without experimentation or closer observation, they are largely speculative: cha

Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
  • 01/01/2010

One population in Delaware and two in North Carolina are known to be extant and vigorous. Populations at the New Jersey sites have declined significantly in recent years to just a few flowering stems (NatureServe 2001). The total global population is estimated at less than 1000 individual plants (NatureServe 2001).

Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
  • 01/01/2010

Karen Bennett of the Delaware Natural Heritage Program has monitored Panicum hirstii in that state Taxonomic work on the species is ongoing. Although the taxon was first described as Panicum hirstii by Swallen (1961), Kartesz (1999) has placed the taxon into Dichanthelium while maintaining its distinct species epithet, a placement that accords with other research (Schuyler 1996). Richard LeBlond, Inventory Specialist with the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program is further investigating the taxonomy of the Panicoid grasses for the North Carolina flora. Writing in 1991 (unpublished), LeBlond said that the variability in characters suggest ""the possibility of a topoclinal relationship between Panicum neuranthum and P. hirstii, the two diverging genetically and in habitat preference northward from Florida to New Jersey [however] the combination of wider autumnal leaves and included autumnal panicles in Dicanthelium = P. hirstii does not occur in any other Dicanthelium entity."" The New England Wild Flower Society (Framingham, Massachusetts) has collected seeds, but despite repeated attempts, has not been able to germinate seed successfully.

Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
  • 01/01/2010

No information is available regarding specific management addressing Panicum hirstii.

Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
  • 01/01/2010

Population viability analysis for all remaining populations Experiments with culms grown from collected seed on how local hydrology, inundation depth, and water chemistry affect seed germination, seedling establishment, and plant reproduction. Analysis of genetic homozygosity levels in isolated populations

Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
  • 01/01/2010

Comprehensive seed storage and germination trials from additional populations are needed for this taxon

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Dichanthelium hirstii
Authority (Swallen) Kartesz
Family Poaceae
CPC Number 3086
ITIS 565133
USDA DIHI13
Common Names Hirst's panic grass | Hirsts' panicgrass | Hirst's panicgrass
Associated Scientific Names Panicum hirstii | Dichanthelium hirstii
Distribution Extant populations of Panicum hirstii occur in Delaware, North Carolina, and New Jersey (NatureServe 2001). Documents from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the species as """"E"""" (endangered) in
State Rank
State State Rank
Delaware S1
Georgia S1
North Carolina S1
New Jersey S1
Habitat

Panicum hirstii occurs in sandy, coastal plain areas that undergo rises and falls in water level. Among its habitats are: coastal plain ponds in the New Jersey pine barrens; limestone depression ponds and shallow Cypress ponds in Georgia; and maritime wet grasslands of North Carolina (Amoroso 1999).According to notes of J. R. Swallen (quoting the discoverer, Frank Hirst), the type specimen of Panicum hirstii came from a """"small woodland pond in the pine barrens -- growing in the water, much as Panicum spretum often does. This is a most interesting pond, the Panicum being associated with Lobelia boykinii, Paspalum dissectum, Coreopsis rosea, etc."""" (Swallen 1961: 235-236). Other collections have been made in 1900 from the margin of a pine-barren pond, Sumter County (Georgia), and in 1947 from a Cypress swamp, Calhoun County (Georgia), according to Swallen (1961).

Ecological Relationships

There is no published literature on the ecology of this taxon. As a member of the flora of coastal plain ponds and other seasonally wet depressions, the biology of this species is likely to be tightly tied to the variable hydrological regime that is characteristic of these areas. Population numbers fluctuate dramatically from year to year (NatureServe 2001), as is typical of the species endemic to these habitats. Pollination of this small-flowered grass is likely to be via wind. The species apparently can form a seed bank (NatureServe 2001). For more on the ecology of coastal plain ponds of the region, see Schneider (1994).

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID

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