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Aristida stricta Michaux. Carolina Wiregrass, Pineland Three-awn. Phen: Sep-Nov. Hab: Coastal Plain pinelands of nearly all sorts, ranging from the driest white-sand sandhills to seasonally saturated pine savannas dominated by a mixture of longleaf pine and pond pine, largely or entirely replaced in the wettest savannas by Sporobolus teretifolius, S. pinetorum, Calmovilfa brevipilis, Muhlenbergia expansa, and Ctenium aromaticum; also in Piedmont areas adjacent to the Coastal Plain and formerly supporting fire-maintained longleaf pine woodlands. Dist: Ne. NC (south of Albemarle Sound and the Roanoke River), south to ne. SC (Lee and Kershaw counties)

Origin/Endemic status: Endemic

Other Comments: A. stricta was the keystone species of much of the upland Coastal Plain of the Carolinas. Its flammable foliage facilitated the spread of lightning-set fires that maintained the biologically rich pine savanna, sandhill, and pine flatwood ecosystems once widespread in our area. Though still locally common in parts of the Sandhill region and in portions of Brunswick, Pender, Onslow, and Carteret counties, NC, A. stricta is much rarer than formerly. The conversion of vast acreages of former pinelands to agriculture, pine tree farms, and developed areas has taken its toll over the years. In the twentieth century, suppression of fire has also led to the destruction of A. stricta. More recently, pine-straw raking is leading to the serious decline of A. stricta in its few remaining strongholds on public lands. A. stricta has little tolerance for ground disturbance. See Peet (1993) for discussion of the taxonomy and ecology of this species. Ward (2001) proposes varietal status for A. stricta and A. beyrichiana.

Synonymy: = K1, K3, K4, Peet (1993); = Aristida stricta Michx. var. stricta – Ward (2001); < Aristida stricta Michx. – FNA25, GW1, HC, RAB, S, Allred (1986), Kesler, Anderson, & Hermann (2003)

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image of plant© Keith Bradley
image of plant© Bruce A. Sorrie | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© Scott Ward | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© Alan Cressler: Aristida stricta, Wade Tract Preserve, Arcadia Plantation, old growth Pinus palustris, Thomas County, Georgia 2 by Alan Cressler source
image of plant© Alan Weakley source | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© Keith Bradley
image of plant© Alan Weakley source | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© Alan Weakley source | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© Radford, Ahles and Bell | Original Image ⭷