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Tripsacum (dactyloides L.)

Randall Lester
Assistant Manager
USDA NRCS - Appalachian Plant Materials Center
P.O. Box 390
Alderson, West Virginia 24910
304-445-7049 (fax)

Family Scientific Name: Poaceae/Gramineae
Family Common Name: Grass family
Scientific Name: Tripsacum dactyloides L.
Common Name: Eastern gamagrass
Species Code: TRDA3
Ecotype: Lot Number N1320
General Distribution: Eastern gamagrass is widely distributed throughout much of the eastern half of the continental US from Nebraska to New York south to Texas and Florida.
Known Invasiveness: This plant can be weedy or invasive according to the Southern Weed Science Society. 1998. Weeds of the United States and Canada.
Propagation Goal: Plants
Propagation Method: Seed
ProductType: Container (plug)
Time To Grow: 9 months
Target Specifications: A well developed plant suitable for transplanting with at least 16" of top growth and a healthy root system.
Propagule Collection: Seed was purchased from Liggetts Supply in Mill Creek, WV by the US Forest Service and supplied to the PMC. Lot number is N1320. Seed origin is from Missouri.
Propagule Processing: Eastern gamagrass has a very hard seed coat which often limits germination.
Pre-Planting Treatments: Prior to planting, the seed was processed through a dehuller machine two times. This machine was adjusted so that the distance between the internal rubber rollers was close enough to gently squeeze the seeds as they passed through which cracked the seed coat without damaging the embryo inside. In some cases, the embryo was completely separated from the outside hull.
Growing Area Preparation/
Annual Practices for Perennial Crops:
Pro-mix BX with biofungicide was moistened and placed in heavy plastic trays. The soil was compacted somewhat to prepare a firm seedbed.
Establishment Phase: Seed was spread evenly on the soil surface and then covered with 1/4 inch of additional soil. The top layer was pressed down slightly to ensure good seed to soil contact. The trays were placed in the cooler (34 degrees F) for 3 months to allow for cold, moist stratification.
Length of Establishment Phase: 3 months
Active Growth Phase: After cold stratification, the trays were moved directly to the greenhouse for germination. Seedlings began to emerge after about 2 weeks in the greenhouse. Once the seedlings had developed sufficient root systems, they were transplanted into quart plastic containers filled with Metro-mix 510 growing media.
Length of Active Growth Phase: 5 months
Hardening Phase: Plants were moved into the shadehouse to allow for hardening off before shipping.
Length of Hardening Phase: 2 weeks
Harvesting, Storage and Shipping: Plants with sufficient top growth and root development were shipped back to the Monongahela National Forest for transplanting. Trailers were covered with tarps to prevent excessive wind burn damage.
Length of Storage: 1 day
Outplanting performance on typical sites: Eastern gamagrass performs best in moist habitats such as floodplains and along stream banks where the soil is fertile. Rainfall should be above 25 inches annually. Because of it's unique root system, eastern gamagrass can withstand short periods of flooding as well as periods of drought.
Other Comments: Care should be taken to not overgraze eastern gamagrass. Stands should not be grazed or cut lower that 8 inches and require a month of recovery time after harvesting.
References: USDA, NRCS. 2012. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 12 July 2012). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.


Lester, Randall; Vandevender, John. 2016. Propagation protocol for production of Container (plug) Tripsacum dactyloides L. Plants USDA NRCS - Appalachian Plant Materials Center Alderson, West Virginia. In: Native Plant Network. URL: http://NativePlantNetwork.org (accessed 2019/11/18). US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, National Center for Reforestation, Nurseries, and Genetic Resources.

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