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Tridens flavus

Common Name(s):
Grease grass, Purpletop tridens
Native Plants, Ornamental Grass, Perennials

A native ornamental warm-season bunch grass in the Poaceae family.  It has attractive redish-purple seed heads that appear in the late summer and persist into fall and are espeically impactful when planted en masse.  It is a salt tolerant grass and is often seen growing along roadside ditches. Its seed heads are oily, hence the common name grease grass, and are a food source for birds and mammals.

Purple Top is a perennial warm-season grass that grows 3-5 feet tall and 3 feet wide. It has a rich hue to its foliage as it develops each spring. Shortly after the foliage matures, the flower spikes develop as purple panicles that bloom from August to November.

Regions: Mountains, Piedmont, Coastal Plain

Seasons of Interest:

     Bloom: Summer-Fall, August-October; Fruit/Seed/Nut: Fall/Winter

Wildilfe Value: Deer resistance is high. Seed heads are a food source for birds and mammals.  This species is the larval host of a number of butterflies and moths, including Cercyonis pegala (Common Wood Nymph), Polites origenes (Crossline Skipper), Pompeius verna (Little Glassywing), and Poanes viator (Broad-winged Skipper). Provides excellent cover year round.

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:

Purple seed heads
purple, butterflies, native, birds, perennial, deer resistant, pollinators, salt tolerant, wildlife, moths, larval host

NCCES plant id: 3161

Tridens flavus Purple seed head
Mary Keim, CC BY-NC-SA - 2.0
Tridens flavus In bloom
Tom Potterfield, CC BY-NC-SA - 2.0