Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Fringed Yellow-eyed-grass - Xyris fimbriata   Elliott
Members of Xyris with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Order Commelinales » Family Xyridaceae
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AuthorElliott
DistributionCoastal Plain and Sandhills, absent from northern portions of the former -- even though it ranges north to NJ.

Coastal Plain, southern NJ to central FL and eastern TX; central TN.
AbundanceFrequent to common, especially in the Sandhills. Absence of records for the northern third of counties makes little biological sense, considering that it is found in several southeastern VA counties.
HabitatShallow water and shores of impoundments, beaver ponds, natural lakes and sinkhole ponds; also in very wet blackwater streamheads.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting early August-October.
IdentificationThis is our tallest yellow-eyed-grass, scapes typically 3-4 (-5) feet tall and leaves 1-2 feet long. The lateral sepals extend well beyond the scales and are deeply cut into a feathery fringe which is quite attractive. Small's Yellow-eyed-grass (X. smalliana) is not quite as tall (2.5-4 feet), lateral sepals are shallowly cut, and foliage has a lustrous sheen to it.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

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)Giant Yellow-eyed-grass
State RankS2? [S3S4]
Global RankG5
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