Dichanthelium clandestinum is a perennial C3 grass (Waller and Lewis 1979), stout, erect or reclining, 60 cm to 1.5 m, tufted and often densely colonial from rhizomes, stems often hairy, leaf sheaths bristly-hairy.
Leaves broad and short, 10-25 cm long, 2-3 cm wide, base lobed, with warty-based hairy, tip pointed, stiff, midrib conspicuously raised, primary veins larger than secondary; autumn phase leaves about 4 m long 3 cm wide, with bristly, overlapping sheaths, overwintering as a rosette.
Flower spikelets 1-flowered, oval, blunt tipped, about 0.3 cm long, 0.1 cm wide, hairy, first glume about 0.1 cm; blooms June; inflorescence appearing sparse, typical of Panicums; spring inflorescence 7-14 cm, egg-shaped to pyramidal, stiff, wiry branches, emerging from leaf sheath slowly and late, branches spreading; autumnal phase few-branched from middle and upper nodes, spikelets few, hidden inside sheaths (Brown 1979, Levine 1995); blooms and fruits July-Oct. Seeds eaten by many birds and small mammals (Martin et al. 1951).
Wetland status: FAC+.
Frequency in NYC: Frequent.
Habitat: Open, moist upland areas, edges, and bright woods, on fill, roadsides, soil pH 4-7.5, tolerant of fire, drought, intoleant of salt and shade (USDA, NRCS 2010).
Notes: Foliage eaten by rabbits, muskrats and deer (Martin et al. 1951). Fed upon by larvae of several skippers (Hesperiidae) and various other insects (Hilty 2006).