Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Silver Hairgrass - Aira caryophyllea   L.
Members of Poaceae:
Members of Aira with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Order Cyperales » Family Poaceae
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DistributionMostly the inner Coastal Plain, Sandhills, and Piedmont; rare in the Mountains and Outer Banks (Roanoke Island and Bodie Island [Coquina Beach area]).

Native of Eurasia and Africa; in eastern N.A. mostly Coastal Plain from N.S. to northwestern FL, eastern TX and AR.
AbundanceMostly fairly common to frequent in the eastern Piedmont, upper Coastal Plain, and Sandhills; infrequent in the upper half of the Piedmont, and rare in the Mountains and Outer Banks.
HabitatDry sandy soil of yards, roadsides, fallow fields, disturbed ground.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting May-July.
IdentificationSilver Hairgrass is a small but handsome grass. Plants are annual, the stems growing in tufts of few to many stems, only 4-8 inches tall. Leaves are skinny and short, mostly basal but also a few up on stems. The terminal inflorescences are multi-branched and open, the branchlets terminated by single spikelets with 2 florets. The glumes (outer scales) are an attractive silvery color. Aira elegans is very similar but its spikelet stalks are much longer and the lower floret is relatively awnless (vs. 2-4 mm long).
Taxonomic CommentsIn some texts, A. elegans is treated as A. caryophyllea var. elegans. It is possible that some of the mapped records of A. caryophyllea actually refer to A. elegans.

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State RankSE
Global RankGNR
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B.A. SorrieRoadside and driveway, Niagara-Carthage Road, May 2015. MoorePhoto_non_natural
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