Dicanthelium caerulescens (Hackel ex Hitchcock) Correll
Synonymy: Panicum caerulescense Hack. Ex. Hitchc.; Dichanthelium dichotomum (L.) Gould var. roanokense (Ashe) R. LeBlond; Panicum dichotomum L. var. roanokense LeLong; Panicum roanokense Ashe; Panicum dichotomum L. var. ramulosum (Torr.) LeLong; Dichanthelium dichotomum (L.) Gould var. ramulosum(Torr.) R. LeBlond
Lower Taxa: none
Habit: Perennial, rosette forming grass
Range: Found on NJ’s Outer Coastal Plain, specifically the Coastal Strip
Frequency: Infrequent, very limited dispersal
Wetland Status: FACW
Flowering & Reproduction: Early Summer, June-early July, vernal panicles, autumnal panicles late July-September; spikelets mature within month of pollination
Comments: The bluish rosette panic grass has a distinct blue color to its stems and leaves, providing the basis for its common and Latin name. The plant is similar to the Dichanthelium dichotmum group and has been lumped by a number of recent authors with this species. The Flora of New Jersey does not concur with this lumping and continues earlier taxonomic tradition.
The FNJP separates Dichanthelium caerulescense as a distinct species. The plant’s upright habit with coarser stem and leaves than the typical rosette panic grass provides distinct morphological characters to separate this species from the Dichanthelium dichotmum group. Its coastal wetland habitat preference is also a distinction to be used to separate from the Dichanthelium dichotmum group.
The New Jersey Natural Heritage Program lists the plant as a historic occurrence. Mary Hough (1983) said it was known from extant sightings in the 1970s and 1980s. The FNJP author’s last sighting of this unusual species was in the late 1980s when a specimen was collected in New Gretna’s brackish marshes near Jobs Creek, coincidently alongside a plant once considered historic and unseen for more than a century!
Reference Specimen: Ocean Co., New Gretna, Joseph Arsenault #1514, gravel access road to Oak Island. 9/16/1984.
Current distribution map reflects author, Chrysler herbarium specimens and Mary Hough, 1983.