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Yavapai County Native & Naturalized Plants

Aristida arizonica - Arizona threeawn

Plant Form:Grass

Family: Poaceae

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  Grass Description -   Glossary of Grass Terminology

Origin: Native    Season: Cool and Warm
Habitat Description: Grows throughout the world in dry grasslands, sandy woodlands, arid deserts, open weedy habitats and on rocky slopes and mesas.
Plant Communities: Desert Scrub, Interior Chaparral, Semidesert Grasslands, Pinyon Juniper Woodland, Disturbed Areas
Elevation: 3000 - 6500 feet

Similar Species: Aristide purpurea var. nealleyi

General Description

Desc: Old leaves persistent at base of plant, stem nodes swollen or brittle, stems erect or ascending, stems tufted or clustered.
Identification notes: Tufted perennial with narrow seedheads. Awns nearly equal, basal portions distinctly twisted. Glumes 1-nerved, nearly equal, first a little longer than the second. Distinguished from A. purpurea var. nealleyi by flat curly blades and longer awns.
Grass Type: Perennial bunchgrass  Rhizomes: Y  Stolons: N
Large Dense Clump (> 2 feet): N  Bushy (highly branched): N
Height with Seedheads: 24 to 36 inches
Seedhead Structure: Branched - open and spreading  Seedhead Droops: N
Flowering Period: May - Sep

Flower Characteristics

Number of Flowers per Spikelet: One-flowered  Spikelets One-sided: N
Awns: 1/4 inch to 1 inch   Three Awns: Y  Awns Bent: N

Flower and Seedhead Notes: Seedhead is narrow, terminal, and compound. Seedhead stem 1 to 3 feet, not woody, sometimes branched above the base. The central awn is 1/2 inch long and the lateral awns are slightly shorter.

Vegetative Characteristics

Blade Hairy: N  Blade with White Margin: N  Blade Cross Section: Flat  
Blade Notes: Leaves predominantly basal, blades are 4 to 12 inches long and 1/2 to 1-1/2 inches wide, usually flat, often curling like wood shavings when mature.
Sheath Hairy: N  Tuft of Hairs Top of Sheath or Collar: N  Ligules: Hairy
Auricles (Ear-like lobes at base of blades): N
Vegetative Notes: Sheaths open.

Forage Value: Three awn grass species are generally classified as fair to poor forage. They green up after the spring rains more rapidly than most grasses and can be used heavily at this time. They are grazed lightly after more palatable grasses begin to grow.

  Arizona Cooperative Extension
Yavapai County
840 Rodeo Dr #C
Prescott, AZ 86305
(928) 445-6590
Version 8.0  
Last Updated: Nov 21, 2021
Content Questions/Comments: Email Mary Barnes  
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