Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Harper's Yellow-eyed-grass - Xyris scabrifolia   R.M. Harper
Members of Xyris with account distribution info or public map:
Google Images
Section 5 » Order Commelinales » Family Xyridaceae
Show/Hide Synonym
AuthorR.M. Harper
DistributionMostly in the Sandhills; disjunct to several locations in Onslow and Pender counties. First discovered in NC during the Fort Bragg inventory in 1992.

Coastal Plain, NC to northwestern FL and southern MS; disjunct to western LA and eastern TX.
AbundanceRare to infrequent in the Sandhills, but very rare near the southern coast. The NCNHP database lists 43 records, essentially all extant. Even so, it is a State Special Concern species.
HabitatBlackwater streamhead ecotones and Sandhills seeps; ecotones between wet pine savannas and pocosins of the outer Coastal Plain.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting late July-September.
IdentificationHarper's Yellow-eyed-grass is most readily noticed by its scape and leaves, which are decidedly gray-green in color, due to abundant little translucent bumps (spicules or tubercles). Leaves are rosy pink to pale maroon basally, versus darker maroon in Chapman's Yellow-eyed-grass (X. chapmanii); and the reddish color does not extend as far up the leaves as in Chapman's. Chapman's Yellow-eyed-grass also inhabits the wettest end of the streamhead habitat spectrum, its feet typically in wet muck.
Taxonomic CommentsTaxon editors consider this species to be amply distinct from Chapman's Yellow-eyed-grass, contrary to FNA.

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 RankS2S3
Global RankG3
State StatusSC-V
US Status
USACE-agcpOBL link
USACE-empOBL link
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
Photo Gallery
B.A. SorrieMoore County, 2012, Walthour Moss land, moist-wet streamhead ecotone. MoorePhoto_natural
Select a source
Select an occurrence type