Dichanthelium hirstii - (Swallen) Kartesz
Hirsts' Panicgrass
Other English Common Names: Hirst Brothers' Panic Grass, Hirsts' Rosette Grass
Other Common Names: Hirst's panicgrass
Synonym(s): Panicum hirstii Swallen
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Dichanthelium hirstii (Swallen) Kartesz (TSN 565133)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.161675
Element Code: PMPOA4K150
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Grass Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Monocotyledoneae Cyperales Poaceae Dichanthelium
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Panicum hirstii
Taxonomic Comments: Swallen (1961), in describing these plants as a new species, noted particularly its distinction from Panicum roanokense, with which some specimens had been confused in the past. Schuyler (Bartonia 59: 95-96, 1996) reviews the species' distinctiveness from similar species in Panicum (particularly P. aciculare, P. neuranthum, and P. roanokense), concluding that Panicum hirstii (or Dichanthelium hirstii) closely resembles P. roanokense but should be maintained as a distinct species. Kral (1982) notes its similarity to P. neuranthemum. Richard LeBlond has a particular interest in panicoid grasses and will be examining the taxonomic distinctness of this species; his initial impression is that it is distinct and is clearly a Dichanthelium. The scientific name honors Frank Hirst, who collected the type specimen in New Jersey (Swallen, 1961); the common name (Hirsts' Panic Grass, note plural possessive) honors both Frank and his late brother Robert Hirst, the co-discoverers.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G1
Global Status Last Reviewed: 22Dec2014
Global Status Last Changed: 05Nov1985
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: Only five occurrences of this grass are known recently extant, one each in Delaware, New Jersey, and Georgia, and two in North Carolina. The species was rediscovered in Georgia in 2014, after not being observered for more than 30 years. Populations at the two documented sites in New Jersey have drastically declined for unknown reasons, and may be gone from one of the sites; in the late 1950's these populations consisted of hundreds of individuals, but in recent years only a single clump with three fruiting stems has been observed. Numbers at a site fluctuate annually, with the total global population currently estimated at less than 1000 individual plants in most years, and only a few thousand in the best years.
Nation: United States
National Status: N1

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Delaware (S1), Georgia (S1), New Jersey (S1), North Carolina (S1)

Other Statuses

Comments on USESA: In a 12-month petition finding, USFWS (2016) found that listing Dichanthelium hirstii is not warranted at this time.  "Based on the best available scientific and commercial information, we find that Dichanthelium hirstii does not meet the Act?s definition of ??species?? and is, therefore, not a listable entity under the Act. Dichanthelium hirstii was subsumed into D. dichotomum ssp. roanokense (Ashe), which ??grows on the coastal plain from Delaware to southeastern Texas and in the West Indies.?? As a result, we are removing Dichanthelium hirstii from the candidate list."
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R5 - Northeast

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: This species has a highly fragmented distribution, being known from only three small, widely separated areas: New Jersey and adjacent Delaware; North Carolina; and Georgia. It has been recently seen extant in southern New Jersey, southern Delaware, coastal North Carolina, and southwest Georgia (Heritage data).

Area of Occupancy: 3-125 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: The six sites recently seen extant are all quite small. For example, in North Carolina, the total area occupied is 800 sq. meters.

Number of Occurrences: 1 - 5
Number of Occurrences Comments: Five current occurrences: two in North Carolina, one in Delaware, one in New Jersey, and one in Georgia; another New Jersey population has not been seen since 1993, and there are two historical occurrences in Georgia.

Population Size Comments: The number of mature plants of Hirsts' panic grass varies greatly at a site from year to year, due to envirnomental conditions; no plants are generally seen at a site in very wet years, when water remains in the ponds late into the season. Heritage and USFWS data show that in most years, somewhat less than 1000 plants appear rangewide. About 2000 plants were seen at the Delaware site in 2000, but only 160 plants were counted there in 1999. About 400 plants in North Carolina in 1997; one site there had 80-100 plants (clumps) in 1990, and the other had 150-200 fruiting clumps in 1994. A few plants (4-5) were noted at one New Jersey site in 2003, but plants have been seen at the other New Jersey site since 1992, despite searches. Seed-banking is presumably significant for this species (as expected in an annual or short-lived perennial Dichanthelium, R. Soreng, pers. comm., 2005), so each extant or recently extant site may be assumed to have an undetermined quantity of viable seed also present.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Very few (1-3)
Viability/Integrity Comments: The Delaware site and at least one of the North Carolina sites appear to have reasonably stable populations without immediate threats.

Overall Threat Impact: Very high - medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Habitat degredation through changes in hydrology (for example due to development of adjacent uplands), on-site and adjacent land use, groundwater withdrawal, and (at one site) water pollution continues to threaten the few remaining extant or possibly extant populations (Heritage and USFWS data). In New Jersey, habitat at one site has been degraded from pollution received in an illegally constructed ditch, and both sites are vulnerable to off-road vehicles. The Delaware occurrence is not immediately threatened, but changes to habitat (succession, changes in hydrology) may have negative impact. The two North Carolina occurrences are not immediately threatened but plow lines and ditches affect hydrology and may cause successional changes. The Georgia sites, if extant, are on unprotected private lands in an agricultural area where water withdrawal for irrigation is a particular threat. The species also has natural vulnerability because of its low numbers and few sites; furthermore, it is sensitive to competing vegetation, and does not grow successfully in very wet or very dry years; also, there is presumably a lack of gene flow between disjunct populations, which may be detrimental to this plant.

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Short-term Trend Comments: According to Natural Heritage Program data, the species appears to be declining at both New Jersey occurrences, with one possibly extirpated and few plants seen in recent years at the other. The Delaware population appears stable and may be expanding. In North Carolina, plants were observed at both sites in 2000.

Long-term Trend: Decline of 50-70%
Long-term Trend Comments: Appears to be declining at both New Jersey occurrences (discovered in 1958 and 1960), with one possibly extirpated and few plants present at the other. The Delaware population (discovered in 1984) appears stable and may be expanding. In North Carolina, where the two known sites for the species were discovered in 1990, plants were seen at both sites in 2000.

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Populations small, with little or no gene flow between them. Seed-banking, requiring periodic replenishment of supply of persisting underground seed. Habitat vulnerable to succession if fire regimes not maintained.

Environmental Specificity: Very narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements scarce.
Environmental Specificity Comments: Intermittent wetlands (vernal ponds) of coastal plain.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: This species has a highly fragmented distribution, being known from only three small, widely separated areas: New Jersey and adjacent Delaware; North Carolina; and Georgia. It has been recently seen extant in southern New Jersey, southern Delaware, coastal North Carolina, and southwest Georgia (Heritage data).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States DE, GA, NC, NJ

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
DE Sussex (10005)
GA Calhoun (13037)*, Sumter (13261)
NC Onslow (37133)
NJ Atlantic (34001), Burlington (34005)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
02 Mullica-Toms (02040301)+, Chincoteague (02040303)+
03 White Oak River (03020301)+, New River (03020302)+, Kinchafoonee-Muckalee (03130007)+, Ichawaynochaway (03130009)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A short-lived perennial grass with stems that grow in small tufts or as mature plants in large rhizomatous patches or clumps, 5-10 dm tall. Fruiting from June into October.
General Description: A grass.
Technical Description: Culms 55-80 cm tall (to 1 m tall in NC), erect or ascending or spreading, glabrous; sheaths mostly shorter than the internodes, glabrous or sparsely pilose on the margins near the summit, the uppermost usually elongate; ligule a dense line of hairs, 0.5 mm long; blades stiffly erect or narrowly ascending, 4.5-11 cm long, 3-5.5 mm wide, flat, acuminate, glabrous, often tinged with purple; panicles 4.5-9 cm long (to 13 cm long in NC), about 2-3 (-5) mm wide, the branches as much as 2.5 cm long, appressed, smooth or scaberulous; spikelets 1.8-2.1 mm long, glabrous, the pedicels appressed, usually a little shorter than the spikelets; first glume broadly obtuse, nerveless, 0.3-0.8 mm long; second glume and sterile lemma with hyaline margins, the lemma cucculate, subacute, as long as the fruit; fruit subacute, obscurely roughened, pale or yellowish. Autumnal phase sparingly branching from most of the nodes, the leaves and panicles not much reduced; autumnal panicles usually hidden in sheaths. (LeBlond, 1993; Swallen, 1961)
Diagnostic Characteristics: Panicum hirstii is difficult to distinguish from P. neuranthum and P. roanokense but may be characterized by the very narrow panicles with relatively short-pedicelled spikelets, the shorter second glume, and the sparingly branching culms, the autumnal blades and panicles scarcely reduced (Swallen, 1961).
Duration: PERENNIAL
Reproduction Comments: Seed-banking.
Palustrine Habitat(s): FORESTED WETLAND, HERBACEOUS WETLAND, TEMPORARY POOL
Habitat Comments: Vernal ponds in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, North Carolina, and Georgia (Swallen, 1961; Kral, 1983; Schuyler, 1996); the Calhoun Co., Georgia, collection is labeled as a cypress swamp (Swallen, 1961).
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Management needs include: prohibit drainage of habitat, excessive soil disturbance. Hand removal of woody vegetation if necessary. Controlled burning may keep woody reproduction from closing over the herbaceous cover and shading or crowding it out.
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 23Dec2005
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Snyder, D.; revised by L. Morse (1996), D. Snyder/K.Maybury (1997), J. Amoroso (1999), M. Fellows (2003), L. Morse (2005, 2006), rev. A. Tomaino (2014)
Management Information Edition Author: ELIZABETH M. OBEE, NJHP
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 03Jan2006
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Morse, Larry E.

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: Kartesz, J.T., and C.A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, N.C.

  • Kral, R. 1983c. A report on some rare, threatened, or endangered forest-related vascular plants of the South. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Forest Service Technical Publication R8-TP2, Athens, GA. 1305 pp.

  • LeBlond, R. 1993. Letter of May 28 to Christa Russell.

  • LeBlond, R.J., R.F.C. Naczi, A.S. Weakley, K.S. Walz, R.W. Freckmann, W.A. McAvoy. 2017. Taxonomy of Dichanthelium hirstii (Poaceae), a very rare and disjunct witch-grass of the eastern U.S. J.Bot. Res.Inst. Texas 11(2):413-417.

  • Patrick, T.S., J.R. Allison, and G.A. Krakow. 1995. Protected plants of Georgia: an information manual on plants designated by the State of Georgia as endangered, threatened, rare, or unusual. Georgia Dept. Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division, Georgia Natural Heritage Program, Social Circle, Georgia. 218 pp + appendices.

  • Schuyler, A.E. 1996. Taxonomic status of Panicum hirstii Swallen. Bartonia 59: 95-96.

  • Swallen, J.R. 1961. A new species of Panicum from New Jersey. Rhodora 63(751): 235-236.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2004. Species assessment and listing priority assignment form. Dichanthelium hirstii. 11 pp.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2016. 12-Month Findings on Petitions To List 10 Species as Endangered or Threatened Species. Federal Register 81(194): 69425-69442.

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