Tripsacum dactyloides

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: eastern gamagrass 
Type: Ornamental grass
Family: Poaceae
Native Range: Eastern and central United States
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 4.00 to 8.00 feet
Spread: 4.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to September
Bloom Description: Purple (female) and Orange (male)
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy, Good Cut
Leaf: Good Fall
Tolerate: Black Walnut, Air Pollution


Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Does very well in shady locations near water. Cut back to ground after frost kills the foliage.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Tripsacum dactyloides is a robust, clump-forming, warm season grass that is native to Missouri and typically grows from 4-8' tall. Foliage features coarse, arching, narrow (1.25" wide), flat blades. Finger-like flower spikes arch to 10" long above the foliage from May to September. Flower spikes have separate male (orange stamens) and female (purple stigmas) flowers on the same spike (monoecious), somewhat similar to native corn (Zea). Typically grows in the wild in pure stands on prairies, limestone slopes, fields, thickets, wood margins and roadsides. Naturalizes by thick, creeping rhizomes and self-seeding.

Genus name origin obscure.

Specific epithet means resembling fingers for the finger-like flower spikes.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Adds size and texture to the shaded perennial border. Also may be grown in woodland gardens, meadows, prairies, naturalized areas and along the edges of ponds or streams.