Plants and Animals

Graphephorum melicoides Purple false oats

Key Characteristics

Tufted perennial grass of calcareous wetlands; less than 80 cm tall; leaf sheath open and hairy; inflorescence an open panicle; spikelets 2-4 flowered, 5.0 to 7.0 mm long; lemmas awnless; glumes strongly keeled, broadest above middle; rachilla and callus in floret with long, straight hairs.

Status and Rank

US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: SC - Special Concern (rare or uncertain; not legally protected)
Global Rank: G4G5 - Rank is uncertain, ranging from apparently secure to secure
State Rank: SNR - Not ranked


CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Cheboygan 2 1920
Chippewa 2 1958
Clinton 1 1888
Delta 4 2007
Emmet 3 1970
Hillsdale 1 1988
Ionia 1 1888
Kent 1 1894
Keweenaw 1 1936
Leelanau 1 1981
Mackinac 2 1949
Macomb 1 1839
Marquette 1 1990
Oakland 1 1895
Presque Isle 2 1989
Washtenaw 1 1892

Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Found on borders of cedar swamps, meadows, and fens, and marly and rocky shores and swales. Found in sandy or marly, moist soils, and prefers full or partial sun.

Natural Community Types

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Associated Plants

Twig-rush (Cladium mariscoides), bastard-toadflax (Comandra umbellata), variegated scouring rush (Equisetum variegatum), dwarf lake iris (Iris lacustris), Baltic rush (Juncus balticus), sweet gale (Myrica gale), beak-rush (Rhynchospora capillacea), white cedar (Thuja occidentalis), and false asphodel (Triantha glutinosa).

Management Recommendations

This species primarily requires protection of the Great Lakes shoreline habitat and perpetuation of natural disturbance (e.g., winter ice, storms, wind, waves) and periodic fluctuations of Great Lakes water levels. Protect occupied habitat and adjacent habitat to allow for temporal and spatial change in habitat with fluctuation of the Great Lakes. Many of the species found in this community do not tolerate later stages of succession. Protect from development and off-road vehicle activity in occupied habitat.

Survey Methods

Random meander search covers areas that appear likely to have rare taxa, based on habitat and the judgment of the investigator.

  • Meander search

    • Survey Period: From second week of July to fourth week of September


Survey References

  • Elzinga, C.L., D.W. Salzer, and J.W. Willoughby. 1998. Measuring and Monitoring Plant Populations. The Nature Conservancy and Bureau of Land Management, Denver. BLM Technical Reference 1730-1. 477pp.
  • Goff, G.F., G.A. Dawson, and J.J. Rochow. 1982. Site examination for Threatened and Endangered plant species. Environmental Management 6(4): 307-316
  • Nelson, J.R. 1984. Rare Plant Field Survey Guidelines. In: J.P. Smith and R. York. Inventory of rare and endangered vascular plants of California. 3rd Ed. California Native Plant Society, Berkeley. 174pp.
  • Nelson, J.R. 1986. Rare Plant Surveys: Techniques For Impact Assessment. Natural Areas Journal 5(3):18-30.
  • Nelson, J.R. 1987. Rare Plant Surveys: Techniques for Impact Assessment. In: Conservation and management of rare and endangered plants. Ed. T.S. Elias. California Native Plant Society, Sacramento. 8pp.

Technical References

  • Bingham, M.T. 1945. The Flora of Oakland County, Michigan. Cranbrook Institute of Science, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, USA. 155 pp.
  • Crow, G.E. 2017. Emma Cole’s 1901 Grand Rapids Flora: Nomenclaturally Updated and Revised. The Great Lakes Botanist 56: 98–176.
  • Fritsch, P. 1993. Vascular plant species new to Hillsdale County, Michigan. The Michigan Botanist 32: 269–282.
  • Gray, A. 1868. Manual of the botany of the northern United States: Including the district east of the Mississippi and north of North Carolina and Tennessee. Ivison, Phinney, Blakeman, and Co., New York, New York, USA. 703 pp.
  • Hall, M.T., and P.W. Thompson. 1959. An Annotated List of the Plants of Oakland County, Michigan. Cranbrook Institute of Science, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, USA. 93 pp.
  • Hitchcock, A.S. 1935. Manual of the Grasses of the United States. 2nd Ed. A. Chase [ed.]. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., USA. 1040 pp.
  • Judziewicz, E.J. 2001. Flora and vegetation of the Grand Traverse Islands (Lake Michigan), Wisconsin and Michigan. The Michigan Botanist 40: 81–208.
  • Judziewicz, E.J., L.G. Clark, R.W. Freckmann, and M.R. Black. 2014. Field Guide to Wisconsin Grasses. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, Wisconsin, USA. 346 pp.
  • Reznicek, A.A., E.G. Voss, and B.S. Walters.  2011. Graphephorum melicoides (Michx.) Desv., Michigan Flora Online. University of Michigan. Web. Available at: [Accessed: 10 January 2020].
  • Voss, E.G., and A.A. Reznicek. 2012. Field Manual of Michigan Flora. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, MI. 1008 pp.
  • Wells, J.R., and P.W. Thompson. 1974. Vegetation and flora of Keweenaw County, Michigan. The Michigan Botanist 13: 107–151.