This species was recently found growing in a prairie planting
in Waushara County. It was probably introduced as a contaminant
in the seeds of planted prairie species. This illustrates yet
another danger of buying seed from outside the local area. It
remains to be seen if this species will persist in Wisconsin.
The plants are tall, the Flora of North America, vol 25 (2003)
reports heights of up to 2 meters (4) with broad leaves 9 - 35
mm wide. The arrangement of the flowers on 2-3 or more long branches
(rames) 12-23 cm long is reminiscent of big bluestem or even of
corn. Male and female flowers are separate, but both are borne
on the same branch of the inflorescence. In the middle photo above,
the upper purple flowers are male and the lower yellow-green flowers
are female. Female flowers with stigmas exserted are shown in
the photo at far right.
Tripsacum dactyloides is a native species farther south
and is common and even invasive in some places. The Flora of North
America shows a range throughout the southeastern U.S.A., west
to Texas and extreme southeastern Nebraska and north to southern
Iowa and Illinois, Kentucky, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.