TUMBLEGRASS
File Size: 94 KB
 
Schedonnardus paniculatus   (Nutt. ) Trel.
Konza Prairie, Riley County, Kansas
Perennial
Height: 6-28 inches
Family: Poaceae - Grass Family
Flowering Period:   July, August, September
Culms: Erect or decumbent at base, solid, somewhat flattened, rough, curving or arching, more so above; base branched.
Blades: Mainly basal, ascending or arched, flat, wavy, .8 to 4.4 inches long, 1/25 to 1/9 inch wide, smooth, midrib prominent; margins narrowly white, rough with fine teeth; base gradually narrowed; blades twist spirally when mature.
Sheaths: Crowded at base, loose, open to base, keeled, smooth to rough; margin membranous, continuous with ligule.
Ligules: Membrane, glabrous, whitish, 1/25 to 1/6 inch long, tapering-pointed.
Inflorescences: Panicle of widely spaced spikes, 2 to 20+ inches long, 1/2 to 3/4 length of plant; spikes 2-14, stiff, slender, separated .8 to 6+ inches, arranged pinnately and alternately along rachis, curving at maturity; terminal spike at tip.
Spikelets: Variable, numerous, sessile, narrow, 1/8 to 1/4 inch long, flattened, in 2 rows alternating on rachis, 1-flowered; glumes slightly unequal, linear to narrowly lanceolate, 1/16 to 1/5 inch long, stiff, 1-nerved; tips sharply pointed, awned; lemmas narrowly lanceolate, 1/8 to 1/5 inch long, longer than body of second glume, rigid, 3-nerved, slightly pubescent; back rounded; tips tapering to sharp points; unawned.
Habitat: Open, disturbed sites, roadsides, pastures, dry prairies; various soil types.
Distribution: Throughout Kansas.
Origin: Native
Reproduction: By seeds.
Forage Value: Very limited forage value. Tumble grass is not abundant and the forage quality is poor.
Comments: Low tufted. Warm season. At maturity, the culms turn downward and the inflorescence nearly touches the ground. The common name alludes to the inflorescence breaking away at the base like a tumbleweed. This is how the seeds are dispersed. Tumblegrass increases under disturbance and will invade overgrazed pastures.

Tumblegrass inflorescence
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Konza Prairie, Riley County, Kansas
Tumblegrass inflorescence
74 KB
Konza Prairie, Riley County, Kansas
Tumblegrass blades
98 KB
Konza Prairie, Riley County, Kansas
Tumblegrass spikelets
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Konza Prairie, Riley County, Kansas
Tumblegrass
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Konza Prairie, Riley County, Kansas
Tumblegrass
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Ottawa County, Kansas
Tumblegrass ligule
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Ottawa County, Kansas
Tumblegrass blades
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Ottawa County, Kansas