Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Big Three-awn - Aristida condensata   Chapman
Members of Poaceae:
Members of Aristida with account distribution info or public map:
Google Images
Section 5 » Order Cyperales » Family Poaceae
Show/Hide Synonym
DistributionSouthern Coastal Plain, absent in the Sandhills proper. This rare species is historical in Hoke and Richmond counties. It was recently discovered at Carolina Beach State Park, New Hanover County, during a BioBlitz.

Coastal Plain, NC to southern FL and southeastern MS.
AbundanceRare, to locally uncommon at a few sites near the coast; now very rare far inland. This is a State Threatened species, even though the NCNHP database has well over 20 records, most still extant.
HabitatXeric sands of Carolina bay rims, low sand ridges, and Turkey Oak-Longleaf Pine flats.
PhenologyFlowers and fruits August-October.
IdentificationThis is one of our larger species of three-awn grasses (Aristida), the culms reaching 3-4 feet tall. It may grow in the vicinity of Carolina Wiregrass (A. stricta) and can be confused with it if the leaves are rolled lengthwise due to drought. Big Three-awn differs in the awns being contorted at the base (vs. straight in Carolina Wiregrass).
Taxonomic CommentsNone

The genus Aristida is most notable for the 3 hairlike awns which project from each floret. The central awn is almost always thicker than the other 2 awns. The awns may stand erect, especially during the early flowering period, but in most species eventually are bent parallel to the ground. In some species, only the central awn is bent, while the other 2 remain erect. In some species, all awns are the same length, while in other species the central awn is distinctly longer. The awns have tiny barbs which catch onto hair and fur, and florets will even hitch a ride up the inside of your pants!
Other Common Name(s)Piedmont Three-awn (a very misleading name, as it is mostly limited to the Coastal Plain), Sandhills Three-awn
State RankS2
Global RankG4
State StatusT
US Status
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
Photo Gallery
B.A. SorrieBladen County, 2016, Singletary Lake SF, xeric sandhill scrub. BladenPhoto_natural
B.A. SorrieBladen County, 2016, Singletary Lake SF, xeric sandhill scrub. BladenPhoto_natural
Select a source
Select an occurrence type