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Mr. Smarty Plants - What is <i>Andropogon saccharoides</i>?

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Wednesday - August 06, 2008

From: Marble Falls, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: What is Andropogon saccharoides?
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I am reading Roy Bedichek "Adventure with a Texas Naturalist" I came across a reference to sage grass (Andropogan saccharoides)p. 23. I searched the data base and didn't any infromation about it. Does it have a different name now or can you tell me anything about it. His reference makes me think of little & big blue stem. Have a great day and please reply to my work email. Thanks and hang in there with the heat.

ANSWER:

I believe what Mr. Bedichek was referring to is Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana (silver beardgrass).

There have been several taxonomic revisions since he published his excellent book, however.

Hitchcock in Manual of Grasses in the United States (1971), v.2, p. 768, lists the common name of Andropogon saccharoides as Silver Beardgrass, and says that it occurs in:

"Prairies and rocky slopes, especially in limestone areas, Missouri to Colorado, and Alabama to Arizona; Mexico and West Indies to Brazil. Our plants, which have been differentiated as A. torreyanus Steud., are more freely branching then the typical form of the West Indies."

[Note: Hitchcock's Manual of Grasses in the United States was originally published in 1935. The reference above is to the Dover edition which was first published in 1971 and is "an unabridged republication of the second revised edition, as published by the United States Government Printing Office in 1950 as U. S. Department of Agriculture Miscellaneous Publication No. 200."]

Gould in The Grasses of Texas, pp. 592-593, lists Andropogon saccharoides under its currently accepted synonym, Bothriochloa saccharoides, but then lists two varieties—B. saccharoides var. torreyana (Silver Bluestem) with distribution throughout Texas and B. saccharoides var. longipaniculata (Longspike Silver Bluestem) with distribution in eastern Texas, especially along the coast.

Bothriochloa saccharoides (Silver Bluestem), without any suffixes, appears to be the one native to the West Indies (and Puerto Rico) referred to by Hitchcock.

The currently accepted synonym for B. saccharoides var. torreyana (Silver Bluestem) is Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana.

You've got to love those botanical taxonomists! 


Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana

Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana

Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana

Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana

 

 

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