Dothan, AL - Wiregrass. The name seems to be everywhere you look, but where did it come from?
“I knew it stemmed from a grass that grew here. I think it stands in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama,” said Jansen Tidmore, Dothan.
You got it, but even he doesn’t know what it looks like.
“Wiregrass is a bunch type grass. It would grow underneath the canopy of pines. Pines and wiregrass were native to the area,” said Wiregrass Research and Extension Center Director Larry Wells.
“Wildfires at one time were very common in the Wiregrass region. What would happen naturally there were wildfires that would burn for miles and miles. And what that did was only certain plants and animals would survive that fire. Wiregrass being one of them,” said Landmark Park Executive Director William Holman.
While the name stuck, the plant didn't.
The longleaf pines and wiregrass couldn’t survive the settlers. After cutting down trees and cultivating the land, the wiregrass's habitat disappeared.
These days it's hard to find the wiregrass in “The Wiregrass”, but if you take a trip to Landmark Park you can get a glimpse of our namesake.
“This wiregrass was planted here at the park. It won’t reproduce without the fire. But it will continue to grow,” said Holman.
As it continues growing so does the feeling many residents have for the Wiregrass.
“Friends and family. Different restaurants you can walk in here in town and everybody know who you are,” said Elizabeth Zeluski, Dothan.
“I grew up here. So I know a lot of people even though things have changed,” said Henry Dozier, Dothan.
“To me the wiregrass really means farming,” said Wells.
“Wiregrass is home. It’s full and bustling and hopefully progressing and moving forward.”
Landmark park leaders hope someday to recreate that habitat with acres of longleaf pines with wiregrass growing beneath.
If you are interested in creating your own habitat, you can contact the Andrews Nursery.