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Observations on Claviceps purpurea on Spartina alterniflora in the Coastal Marshes of Mississippi

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Seventy-five years ago the first report of the occurrence of Claviceps purpurea (Fr.) Tul. on Spartina alterniflora Loisel in Mississippi was made by Tracy and Earle (1895). Collections were taken at Ocean Springs, Mississippi on Christmas Day in 1892. These specimens are in the herbarium of the Department of Plant Pathology at Mississippi State University. Tracy and Earle presented no data on the infection rate nor does collection data indicate widespread infection. Parris (1959) published a revised host index of Mississippi plant diseases in which he listed C. purpurea based on the collections by 'Tracy and Earle. No further reports have been made of the parasite in this area of the Gulf Coast.

The fungus, C purpurea, commonly known as ergot, was observed, collected and studied on S. alterniflora (smooth cord grass, oyster grass) in the tidal marshes of Mississippi during the late summer and fall of 1968. Collections taken by the author have been deposited at Mississippi State University, the United States Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service at Beltsville, Maryland, and the herbarium of the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory.

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