Native to Chesapeake Bay
- Family - Potamogetonaceae
- Distribution - Redhead grass is typically found in fresh
to moderately brackish and alkaline waters. Redhead grass grows best on firm,
muddy soils and in quiet water with slow-moving currents. The wide, horizontal
leaves of redhead grass may be more susceptible to covering by epiphytic growth
than those of other bay grasses.
- Recognition - Redhead grass is highly variable in its
appearance and, in fact, two stems on a single plant may appear to be separate
species. In relatively shallow water, for example, plants have thicker, darker
green foliage than do plants growing in deeper water. Leaves of redhead grass
are flat and oval-shaped, 1-7 cm (< 1/3 in to 2 ¼ in) long and 1-4 cm (1/3 in to
1 2/3 in) wide with parallel veination. Leaf margins are slightly crisped, and
basal parts of leaves clasp straight and slender plant stems. Leaf arrangement
is alternate to slightly opposite. Branching is more developed in the upper
portion of the plant. Redhead grass has an extensive root and rhizome system
that securely anchors the plant.
- Ecological Significance - Redhead grass probably got its common
name from the redhead ducks often found
feeding on it. Redhead grass is considered an excellent food source for
waterfowl. It is also one of the most easily recognizable bay grass species in the bay
because of its flat, oval-shaped leaves, the base of which are attached to the
- Similar Species - Young shoots of redhead grass may be confused
with curly pondweed (Potamogeton crispus).
- Reproduction - Asexual reproduction occurs by formation of
over-wintering, resting buds at the ends of rhizomes. Sexual reproduction
regularly occurs in early to mid-summer. Spikes of tiny flowers emerge from leaf
axils on ends of plant stems. Flower spikes extend above the water surface and
the pollen is wind-carried. As fruits mature they sink below the surface where
they release seeds. Attempts to propagate plants from seed have been
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