Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Pineland Silkgrass - Pityopsis aspera   (Shuttleworth ex Small) Small
Members of Asteraceae:
Members of Pityopsis with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Asterales » Family Asteraceae
Author(Shuttleworth ex Small) Small
DistributionThis combines the former Heterotheca adenolepis and H. graminifolia of RAB (1968) and other old floras. It occurs in the inner Coastal Plain, Sandhills, Piedmont, and low Mountains; disjunct to Brunswick and New Hanover counties along the southern coast.

Eastern MD and eastern VA south to FL and LA.
AbundanceCommon across the Piedmont and in the Sandhills; infrequent in the lower elevation Mountains, and rare in the Coastal Plain outside of the Sandhills. Absent from most of the Coastal Plain and higher Mountains. This species should clearly have an S5 State Rank, being found in over half of the counties in the state.
HabitatDry to xeric Longleaf Pine-Wiregrass uplands, openings and edges of pine-oak-hickory woodlands, rocky slopes, powerline clearings, and roadsides.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting July-October. Responds well to recurring fire.
IdentificationThe genus Pityopsis has been split from Chrysopsis (the golden-asters) and from Heterotheca (camphorweeds) by the silky, silvery, appressed hairs on leaves and stems. Pineland Silkgrass is a familiar composite of the Piedmont and Sandhills regions in dry and often sandy soil; it grows 1-1.5 feet tall, with slender basal leaves and stem leaves that become greatly reduced upwards. The upper third or more of the stem, and the inflorescence, have abundant stalked glands. The inflorescence is broad and rather open, with many small heads of yellow ray and disk florets. It is very similar to Small-headed Silkgrass (P. microcephala), but that species lacks stalked glands.
Taxonomic CommentsOur plants are P. aspera var. adenolepis; var. aspera does not range N of southern GA.

In the understanding of the genus Pityopsis, great strides were made in the monograph by Semple and Bowers (1985, with keys, drawings and maps). Very recently, Bridges and Orzell (2018) revised some of the Florida taxa, based on examination of type specimens and lengthy field work (includes keys, maps). Finally, Nesom (2019) produced a synopsis of the genus (with full synonymy, keys and maps). Note that the taxonomic concepts of these authors and Weakley (2020) do not always agree; therefore, readers are encouraged to get familiar with these works and also get to know well your local plants.
Other Common Name(s)None?
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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