Diarrhena americana, also known as American beak grass or American beakgrain, is a native, perennial grass of North America, where it grows in rich, moist woodlands from Missouri to Maryland and south to Oklahoma and Alabama. It is considered to be threatened in Michigan, and is listed as endangered in Maryland and Wisconsin. Culms range from 60-131 cm in height. Historically, Diarrhena americana was the only species of beak grass recognized in the United States; however studies have suggested that the known beak grass is to be classified into two distinct species, Diarrhena americana and Diarrhena obovata.
Diarrhena americana naturally occurs throughout the mid-east part of the United States. It ranges from Oklahoma to the east coast, and can even be seen as far north as Michigan. Even though there is a rather large range in the United States, Diarrhena americana is now considered a distinct species with a more northern range, where much of the population is seen in southern Illinois.
Diarrhena americana lives in rich cove forests and woodlands, preferring to grow in the moist soils of shaded ledges and riverbanks. Plants grow 2 to 3 feet tall in clumps with bright green blades with a width that can grow up to 3/4 of an inch wide. These perennial plants can grow flowers that grow above the foliage during the summer, which then give way to hard, brown seed heads as a method of seed dispersal.
Diarrhena americana is an ornamental grass that prefers to grow in shaded areas in clumps, with 3 inch tall floral spikes of nondescript, insignificant tan beaked flowers.
Diarrhena americana can, and does, grow flowers as a formation of seeds. Flowers grow during the early summer, and by late summer turn into hard, brown seed heads. Each seed is reduced to a blunt beak, which is where the common name of beak grass comes from, and this beak is dispersed.
Diarrhena americana is an ornamental grass, and are grown in home gardens. It is considered an easy plant to grow and maintain, not needing much sun or water while generally being a tough plant, and seeds can be bought in stores and online.