The common explanation of this name is that it derives from the Greek eros, “love,” and agrostis, “grass,” of unknown application but giving the genus its common name of “lovegrass.” However, according to Umberto Quattrocchi, others have suggested that it actually derives from the Greek era, “earth.”
Purple lovegrass has some pretty strange common names. Sure, the purple part makes sense:
when this grass flowers, it creates zillions of tiny purple flowers that resemble a purple mist
floating a few inches above the grass. (Is this where “purple haze” comes from?)
And “tumblegrass” makes sense too, since the whole cluster of flowers
eventually turns to seeds and detaches, and, nearly weightless, blows around like tumbleweeds. But lovegrass?
What’s that about? Turns out that most sources assume the genus name derives from the Greek words for
“love” and “grass.” But the Greek era means “earth,” so it may well be that this genus name
actually means “earth grass.” Purple lovegrass prefers roadsides, railroad beds, sandy fields, and waste
Plants: Appears in low tufts 8-18" (20-45 cm) tall. Stems,
called culms, are cylindrical and unbranched, with 3-4 leaves that mostly cover the
stem. It is a type of bunch grass.
Leaves: Leaves are up to 10" (25 cm) long and ⅛-¼" (3-8 mm)
in width, bluish or grayish green. Typically they are hairless except near the base. Higher up, fine branchlets extend multiply from
the main branch, supporting the diminutive flowers.
Flowers: Flowers form a red-purple cloud up to about 15" (38 cm)
× 18" (45 cm). If you look carefully, the cloud resolves into tiny spikelets on tinier pedicels.
Each spikelet is ⅛-¼" (4-7 mm) long, flat, and about ¹/₃₂" (1 mm) wide. Although most flowers are
red-purple, some are olive green. Flowers appear
from July to August.