Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Northern Shorthusk - Brachyelytrum aristosum   (Michaux) Beauvois ex Trelease
Members of Poaceae:
Members of Brachyelytrum with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Order Cyperales » Family Poaceae
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Author(Michaux) Beauvois ex Trelease
DistributionMountains only, mostly at middle to high elevations.

Newf. to MN south to NJ, OH, and southern WI; in the Appalachians south to SC and GA.
AbundanceFrequent, perhaps even locally common, but overlooked. Plants tend to form patches via slender underground rhizomes. The NCNHP moved the species from the Rare List to the Watch List in 2021.
HabitatMoist montane forests at middle to high elevations, including maple-birch and spruce-fir forests.
See also Habitat Account for General Montane Mesic Forests
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting July-September.
IdentificationThe stems grow 1-3 feet long and typically lean over, with well-spaced leaves that taper to a fine point and are 3-5 inches long. The inflorescence is mostly 4-7 inches long, composed of strongly ascending spikelets with very long awns (17-24 mm). B. erectum is closely similer, but it occurs at lower altitudes in the mountains and eastward to the Coastal Plain. It differs in its shorter awn (13-17 mm long) and lemmas with hispid hairs (vs. very tiny, scabrous prickles in B. aristosum).
Taxonomic CommentsFor many decades, lumped within B. erectum.

Other Common Name(s)Northern Long-awned Wood-grass
State RankS3
Global RankG5
State StatusW1
US Status
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