Panicum amarum on Long Island
Panicum amarum is a distinctive native grass that is abundant on Fire Island, Long Island. Its rigid stems and copious seed heads consistently attract seed-eating birds during September and October. For instance, a patch of grass in the immediate vicinity of the Fire Island Hawkatch hosts small flocks of Indigo Buntings and Blue Grosbeaks almost every year. Other species that are attracted to this grass range from the mundane (House Sparrows and Brown-headed Cowbirds) to the locally unusual (Dickcissel). The famous Lark Bunting present at Robert Moses State Park in mid September 1992 fed in Panic Grass in this same fashion. Away from Fire Island, I have found this grass only at Captree State Park, immediately north of Fire Island, across the inlet. I thank Greg Cheplick of the College of Staten Island and Tom Rawinski of the USDA for their help in identifying the grass in question.
Oct 25, 2013