Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Southeastern Slimspike Three-awn - Aristida longespica   Poiret
Members of Aristida with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Order Cyperales » Family Poaceae
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DistributionWidespread, but scarce in the upper Piedmont and Mountains.

MA to southern Ont. and NE, south to FL and TX.
AbundanceFrequent to common, except rare in the upper Piedmont and Mountains. Oddly few collections from the northwestern Coastal Plain, probably not a real gap.
HabitatDry to mesic soil of roadsides, disturbed areas, fields, clearings, etc. Native habitats are uncertain (probably open woodlands), as this is now generally a ruderal species.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting August-October.
IdentificationIt is superficially like the more common A. purpurascens, but the inflorescence has far fewer flowers and looks skinny by comparison. The lateral awns are less than half as long as the central awn (vs. more than half as long as the central awn in A. purpurascens). It is virtually identical to A. geniculata, but the central awn is at most 14 mm long (vs. 12-27 mm long in A. geniculata).
Taxonomic CommentsMany or most references include A. geniculata within it, often as a variety. Thus, some references name this taxon as A. longespica var. longespica.

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)Generally named as Slimspike Three-awn, but that is mainly with A. geniculata included within it. With this latter taxon split out as a separate species, with a name of Northeastern Slimspike Three-awn, Weakley (2018) and the website editors prefer to add a modifier name to A. longespica -- Southeastern Slimspike Three-awn.
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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