Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Elegant Hairgrass - Aira elegans   Willdenow ex Roemer & J.A. Schultes
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Section 5 » Order Cyperales » Family Poaceae
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AuthorWilldenow ex Roemer & J.A. Schultes
DistributionMostly the Piedmont and northern Coastal Plain; scarce in the southern Coastal Plain and southern Mountains.

Native of Eurasia and Africa; in eastern N.A. mostly Coastal Plain from NJ(?) to GA and TX.
AbundanceUncommon to frequent. Rare on the Outer Banks (Roanoke Island, Dare Co.) and Mountains (Macon Co.)
HabitatDry sandy soil of yards, roadsides, fallow fields, disturbed ground.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting May-July.
IdentificationElegant Hairgrass is a small but handsome grass. Plants are annual, the stems growing in tufts of few to many stems, only 4-8 inches tall. Leaves are skinny and short, mostly basal but also a few up on stems. The terminal inflorescences are multi-branched and open, the branchlets terminated by single spikelets with 2 florets. The glumes (outer scales) are an attractive silvery color. Aira caryophyllea is very similar but its spikelet stalks are much shorter and the lower floret has an awn 2-4 mm long (vs. essentially awnless).
Taxonomic CommentsA synonym is A. caryophyllea var. capillaris.

Other Common Name(s)Annual Silver Hairgrass
State RankSE
Global RankGNR
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B.A. SorrieOpen roadside, Piedmont of northeastern Moore County, May 2015. MoorePhoto_non_natural
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