Tennessee Smart Yards Native Plants

A comprehensive database of Tennessee native plants

Purpletop, Purpletop Tridens

Purpletop, Purpletop Tridens

Tridens flavus

Full to part sun; medium to moderately dry moisture level; well adapted to shallow droughty, infertile soils including sandy and rocky as well as clay soils; very strongly acid to slightly acid pH.  3-5 feet height; blooms late summer into fall; purple flowers; spreads by short, thick rhizomes and rapidly by self-seeding.

Germination Code:  C(60)

Native Region:  Statewide

Attractive, easy-to-grow, tall grass with drooping branches bearing widely spaced reddish-purple spikes, putting a purple haze on fields and open woods.  Seedlings are slow to develop and may be overwhelmed by other grasses on better soils. Readily consumed by grazing livestock.  Attracts butterflies.


One response to “Purpletop, Purpletop Tridens

  1. joystewart December 23, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    A few years ago I scattered a few seeds of this plant to see what it is like. Last year I noticed several healthy plants and really liked the appearance. It is almost as tall as I am (when the seed heads form) but it is so slender that it does not take up a lot of space like Big Bluestem or some of the other clump-forming grasses. I really liked a description that I once read that large areas of it create a beautiful purple haze when the seeds form. I decided I would use it as one of my main grasses in a section of my yard that I will be doing in about a year. But to be on the safe side, I contacted a grass specialist at UT for advice on whether I was headed for any problems in using it. He said no. So hopefully in a couple years I will have a large meadow planting with lots of it. At least it shouldn’t crowd out the wildflowers like Big Bluestem does. Once my planting is in, I will post photos and a note on how well it works.

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