Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Curtiss's Yellow-eyed-grass - Xyris curtissii   Malme
Members of Xyris with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Family Xyridaceae
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DistributionCoastal Plain (mostly southern) and Sandhills; disjunct to a seepage bog in Iredell County and to Nags Head Woods on the Outer Banks.

Coastal Plain, southeastern VA to northwestern FL, eastern TX, and southern AR; southern NJ; Belize.
AbundanceUncommon generally, but may be common where found. The website editors suggest a State Rank of S2S3 instead of S2?, especially as the NCNHP has not seen fit to have it on its Watch List.
HabitatMoist to perennially wet sandy soil of blackwater streamhead ecotones, pine savannas and flatwoods, pitcher-plant bogs.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting late July-September.
IdentificationCurtiss's Yellow-eyed-grass is one of our small species, about the size of Shortleaf (X. brevifolia) and Savanna (X. flabelliformis) Yellow-eyed-grasses. Its stem is usually taller than those two, often 8-15 inches. Leaves of young plants form fans at ground level and look much like those of Savanna Yellow-eyed-grass; older leaves are longer and form less obvious fans. Unlike Shortleaf Yellow-eyed-grass, Curtiss's does not turn rusty brown during the growing season.
Taxonomic CommentsSome references treat this as a variety of X. difformis -- i.e., as X. difformis var. curtissii.

Members of Xyris are easy to identify to genus, but can be a challenge to identify species. Careful observation of a few features with a hand-lens is usually sufficient. Close attention must be paid to the flowering head, which is composed of overlapping brown scales. Immediately behind each scale are two brown "lateral sepals"; the margins of these may be feathery or irregularly lacerate (cut into narrow segments) or finely cut into short, comb-like prickles. Lateral sepals may be hidden or a bit longer than each scale. The flowers themselves are usually of little diagnostic value, other than time of flowering -- morning vs. afternoon. Seed size and ornamentation can also be useful characters, but require a dissecting scope to see well. Note also whether leaves and scapes (stems) are twisted and the color of the basal portion. All species have 2-ranked leaves, but in some species the leaves are arranged in a broad, fan-like shape. Finally, note the leaf and stem surface texture -- whether smooth of with little pale bumps. See Godfrey & Wooten (1979) for detailed descriptions and drawings.
Other Common Name(s)None
State RankS2? [S2S3]
Global RankG5T5 [G5]
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B.A. SorrieSandhills Game Land, seepage slope. Note short, fan-shaped leaves. RichmondPhoto_natural
B.A. SorrieEastwood powerline seepage, late July 2015.
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