Plants perennial; cespitose, sometimes rhizomatous. Culms
(20)30-130(150) cm. Sheaths with sparsely hairy apices, hairs to 3 mm;
ligules 0.1-0.5 mm; blades not conspicuously distichous, 5-70
cm long, 1.5-10 mm wide, flat, folded, or involute, abaxial surface glabrous
or pilose, adaxial surface glabrous or scabridulous, margins glabrous. Panicles
terminal and axillary, 5-30 cm long, 0.4-1.6 cm wide, usually spikelike, partially
included in the uppermost sheath, with 15-90 spikelets per cm2 (exposed
portion, when pressed); lower nodes with 1-2(3) branches; primary
branches 0.4-6 cm, appressed, spikelet-bearing to the base; secondary
branches appressed; pulvini glabrous; pedicels 0.3-3.5 mm,
appressed, glabrous or scabridulous. Spikelets 4-6(10) mm, stramineous
to purplish-tinged. Glumes subequal, lanceolate, membranous to chartaceous,
midveins usually greenish; lower glumes (1.2)2-4 mm; upper glumes
(2)2.5-5(6) mm, slightly shorter or longer than the lemmas; lemmas (2.2)3-6(10)
mm, lanceolate, membranous to chartaceous and hyaline, glabrous, smooth, occasionally
2- or 3-veined, acute to obtuse; paleas (2.2)3-6(10) mm, ovate to lanceolate,
membranous; anthers 0.2-3.2 mm, yellow to orangish. Fruits 1-2
mm, ellipsoid, laterally flattened, often striate, reddish-brown; pericarps
gelatinous, slipping from the seeds when wet. 2n = 54, 88, 108.
Sporobolus compositus grows along roadsides and railroad right of ways,
on beaches, and in cedar glades, pine woods, live oak-pine forests, prairies,
and other partially disturbed, semi-open sites at 0-1600 m. Its range lies entirely
within the Flora region.
The Sporobolus compositus complex is a difficult assemblage
of forms, perhaps affected by their primarily autogamous breeding system (Riggins
1977). Asexual proliferation via rhizomes adds to the species ability to maintain
local population structure and to perpetuate unique character combinations.
From Flora of Indiana (1940) by Charles C. Deam
This species [treated as S. asper in Deam's Flora] is infrequent throughout the state. It is doubtful that this species is a native. I have noted its advent into the state during the past few years. It now often forms complete stands for rods along railroads, highways, and adjacent fields. It will no doubt, in time, become a weed.
Indiana Coefficient of Conservatism: C = 1
Wetland Indicator Status: N/A
Indiana populations belong to var. compositus.
Deam (1929): When [S. compositus] becomes established, it forms dense colonies. I have found it but once in pasture fields and then it had spread from an adjoining railroad. I predict that in due time this grass will become a pest like Schizachyrium scoparium and Andropogon virginicus.