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How to Identify Gama Grass

Gama Grass, Tripsacum dactyloides, is a native, warm season grass mostly found in the southern half of Illinois. It is a robust bunchgrass that grows in moist prairies, and this grass produces large bunches with flowering stalks that can grow up to seven feet tall. The leaves of Gama Grass are usually up to a couple feet long and very sharp to the touch. They have a prominent white midrib and the leaves are wrapped very tightly around the stem, which makes it difficult to pull them back, but when you do you'll find a hairy ligule in the collar region.

Gama Grass blooms in the summer, producing a raceme inflorescence. This grass has separate male and female flowers on the same plant, so along the finger-like collection of spikelets, which can be several inches to about a foot long, you'll find female flowers at the base with white to pink stigmas. And then along the upper three-quarters of the collections of spikelets you'll find the male flowers with reddish anthers.

This video is part of the Grasses at a Glance series by Natural Resources, Environment, and Energy Educator Erin Garrett, University of Illinois Extension. Explore the playlist. Read our blog Grasses at a Glance.