Toothache Grass - Orange Grass
Ctenium aromaticum - (Walter) Alph. Wood
Poaceae (Grass) Family


Photo courtesy Carol Parker Graves, Brewton, Alabama

Toothache Grass is a native herbaceous perennial in the Grass family that is native to the southern third of Alabama; grows in pine flatwoods and savannahs, in pitcher plant bogs, and in ecotones along drainages. It is an erect cespitose (clump forming) perennial. The non-flowering plants are 1-2 feet in height. Old leaf sheathes are persistent and become fibrous at the base.

The leaves are basal and alternate on the lower parts of stems, linear, with ciliate margins. The leaves are smooth below and rough above; bright green above and pale below.

The flowers are produced in panicles at the top of nearly naked flowering stems that are 3-4 feet in height. The panicles are solitary and cork-screw curved, with spikelets produced on one side of the rachis.

Fruit is an awned grain.

The lower parts of stems contain isobutylamides that numb the mouth when chewed, hence the common name. Toothache Grass is a fire dependent species and flowers in abundance the year after a fire.

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