Diarrhena americana

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Diarrhena americana
Diarrhena americana HC-1950.jpg
1950 drawing[1]
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
(unranked): Commelinids
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Genus: Diarrhena
Species: D. americana
Binomial name
Diarrhena americana
P.Beauv. 1812
  • Festuca diandra Michx 1803 not Moench 1794
  • Diarina festucoides Raf.
  • Korycarpus arundinaceus Zea ex Lag.
  • Roemeria zeae Roem. & Schult.
  • Corycarpus diandrus Kuntze
  • Diarina sylvatica Raf.
  • Diarrhena arundinacea (Zea ex Lag.) Rydb.
  • Diarrhena festucoides (Raf.) Fernald
  • Festuca diandra Michx.

Diarrhena americana, also known as American beak grass or American beakgrain, is a native, perennial bunchgrass of North America. [3] [4]

Historically, Diarrhena americana was the only species of beak grass recognized in the United States; however studies have suggested that the known beak grass is to be classified into two distinct species, Diarrhena americana and Diarrhena obovata.[5]


Diarrhena americana naturally occurs throughout the Mid-Western United States, including in eastern Oklahoma and Missouri; south to Alabama; east to Kentucky, the Appalachian Mountains and northern Maryland; and north to southern Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and southern Michigan. [3][6] [7] [8]

The grass plant lives in rich cove forests and woodlands, preferring to grow in the moist soils of shaded ledges and riverbanks.[9] t grows in rich, moist woodlands from Missouri to Maryland and south to Oklahoma and Alabama.[10]


Diarrhena americana - Berlin Botanical Garden

Diarrhena americana is a bunchgrass that grows in 2–3 feet (0.61–0.91 m) tall clumps. It has bright green leaf blades, that can grow up to 0.75 inches (1.9 cm) in width. [3]

These perennial plants can grow flowers that grow above the foliage, with 3 inch tall floral spikes, during the early to mid-summer. [3][11] [12][13] Culms range from 60–131 cm in height.

By late summer the flowers turn into hard, brown seed heads. [3] Each seed is reduced to a blunt beak, which is where the common name of beak grass comes from, and this beak is dispersed.[14]


Diarrhena americana is cultivated as an ornamental grass, grown in traditional and wildlife gardens, and in natural landscaping projects. [15]

It is considered an easy plant to grow and maintain, not needing much sun or water while generally being a tough plant. It will tolerate: drought, heavy shade, black walnutcompetition, and urban air pollution. [15] When available, the plant will grow into dense clumps in moist rich soils in full shade. "Diarrhena americana". Retrieved 2014-04-25. </ref> Seeds can be bought in stores and online. [16]


Diarrhena americana is a listed endangered species in Maryland and Wisconsin, and a threatened species in Michigan.[17]

See also[edit]



  • Brandenburg, D.M., J.R. Estes, and S.L. Collins. 1991. A revision of Diarrhena (Poaceae) in the United States. Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 118:128–136.
  • Koyama, T. and S. Kawano. 1964. Critical taxa of grasses with North American and eastern Asiatic distribution. Canad. J. Bot. 42:859–864.
  • Tateoka, T. 1960. Cytology in grass systematics: A critical review. Nucleus (Calcutta) 3:81–110.

External links[edit]

Data related to Diarrhena americana at Wikispecies