Purpletop

Purpletop_jpgIn ancient times and continuing to today this plant family (Poaceae), commonly known as grasses, have stood between mankind and starvation.  For thousands of years grasses have provided food we eat (wheat, rice, corn, sugar cane, and more) and food for our domestic livestock.  In earlier times grasses were used to make thatched roofs, mats for floors, bedding, and kitchen utensils. Indeed, some made an entire house of a grass species–bamboo–including water-piping, ladders and furniture. In early man’s culture, selected grasses were used as writing tools and reeds provided flutes and similar musical instruments.  Dyed grasses played an ornamental role as part of costumes worn for ceremonial occasions.  Incense was made from grasses. Children made toy boats, dolls, and other toys with plants in this family.  A good whistle can be made by placing a blade of grass between the thumbs and blowing across it. On the darker side, early man made war using grasses for shafts of arrows, spears, and darts.  Swords and knives could be fashioned from bamboo.  Grain that has molded or have a fungus can be toxic.

OtherCommonName:

Tall Redtop

ScientificName:

Tridens flavus

Community:

Edge

PlantStatus:

Native

LifeSpan:

Perennial

PlantHeight:

3 to 5 feet

FruitingTime:

Early August to late September

Distribution:

Massachusetts to Texas ~ Statewide in New Jersey, only intrusive in tidewater steams ~ Found in fields, roadsides and open woods

FloweringTime:

Early August to late September

IdentifyingCharacteristics:

Tufted, short rhizomes ~ Sheaths bearded at top ~ Blades smooth, elongated with loosely spreading branches ~ Spikelets purple, oval ~ 4 to 9 flowers