Aristida basiramea Engelm. ex Vasey

fork-tipped threeawn

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Fork-tipped threeawn is found in open, sandy fields, grasslands, roadsides and disturbed areas. It is considered native to Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, but not native to Massachusetts, where it also occurs.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), grassland, meadows and fields

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Vermont
Leaf blade width
1–1.5 mm
Inflorescence branches
the flowers are attached to branches rather than to the main axis of the inflorescence
Spikelet length
7–8 mm
Glume relative length
both glumes are as long or longer than all of the florets
Awn on glume
the glume has an awn
One or more florets
there is one floret per spikelet
Lemma awn length
10–15 mm
Leaf sheath hair type
  • there are hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath, but the hairs do not have blisters at their bases
  • there are no hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Anther number
    3
    Awn on glume
    the glume has an awn
    Bristles below spikelets
    no
    Floret lower bract texture
    the lemma is hard and firm
    Floret number
    1
    Floret types within spikelet
    all the florets within a spikelet are similar
    Glume awn length
    1–2 mm
    Glume relative length
    both glumes are as long or longer than all of the florets
    Glume veins
    1
    Glumes per spikelet
    2
    Inflorescence arrangement
    the spikelets are uniform
    Inflorescence axis orientation
    the inflorescence axis is straight
    Inflorescence branch length
    Up to 2 cm
    Inflorescence branches
    the flowers are attached to branches rather than to the main axis of the inflorescence
    Inflorescence length
    20–100 mm
    Inflorescence length to width ratio
    2–5
    Inflorescence type (general)
    the spikelets are borne on stalks or on branches
    Inflorescence type (specific)
    • the inflorescence is a raceme (a long unbranched stem with stalked flowers growing along it)
    • the inflorescence is branched, and the branches do NOT both grow from the same side of the plant AND look like spikes
    Inflorescence width
    10–20 mm
    Inforescence position
    the spikelets are mainly carried at the end of the stem
    Lemma awn base
    the awn is attached right at the tip of the lemma
    Lemma awn coiled
    the lemma awn is coiled at least one half turn
    Lemma awn length
    10–15 mm
    Lemma awn number
    the lemma has more than one awn on it
    Lemma awn orientation
    the awn of the lemma on dried or older plants is curved or bent outwards
    Lemma base hairs
    the lemma has hairs at the base
    Lemma base length
    0.4–0.6 mm
    Lemma cross-section
    the lemma is flat or rounded if you cut across the midpoint
    Lemma surface
    the surface of the lemma is relatively smooth (not counting any longitudinal veins or hairs)
    Lemma tip
    the lemma tip is a simple point, with or without an awn (long narrow extension ending in a point)
    Lemma vein number
    3
    Lower glume length
    8–11 mm
    Lower glume relative length
    the lower glume is nearly as long, or as long as, the upper glume
    One or more florets
    there is one floret per spikelet
    Palea relative length
    palea is one half to fully as long as lemma
    Reproductive system
    all the flowers on the plant have both carpels and stamens (synoecious)
    Spikelet axis tip
    there is no extension of the spikelet axis beyond the tip of the spikelet
    Spikelet disintegration
    the spikelet breaks off above the glumes, so that after the florets fall off, the glumes remain
    Spikelet length
    7–8 mm
    Spikelet number per node
    0
    Spikelet position
    the spikelets emerge from both the upper and lower halves of the inflorescence branches
    Spikelets per panicle branch
    1–3
    Spikelets spiny
    the spikelets do not appear spiny
    Tip of glume
    the tip of the glume is not divided (though it may have an awn on it)
    Upper glume length
    10–12 mm
    Upper glume relative length
    the upper glume is more than one half as long as the lowest lemma
    Upper glume shape
    the upper glume is widest at or below the middle
  • Fruits or seeds
    Seed length
    6–7 mm
  • Growth form
    Horizontal rooting stem
    no
    Lifespan
    the plant lives only a single year or less
    Rhizomes
    no
    Roots
    there are only slender roots on the plant
  • Leaves
    Basal leaves
    the plant has few or no leaves coming from the base of the flowering stem
    Leaf auricles
    the leaves do not have auricles
    Leaf basal lobe hairy
    NA
    Leaf blade cross-section
    the leaf blade is more or less flat in cross-section, or slightly folded or rolled inwards
    Leaf blade length
    3–8 cm
    Leaf blade width
    1–1.5 mm
    Leaf ligule type
    the leaf ligule is in the form of fine hairs
    Leaf margin glands
    there are no glands along the edges of the leaf blade
    Leaf sheath closed around stem
    the margins of the leaf sheath are overlapping and not fused together except in the basal half (or less)
    Leaf sheath hair type
    • there are hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath, but the hairs do not have blisters at their bases
    • there are no hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath
    Leaf sheath hairs
    • there are hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath
    • there are no hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • grasslands
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • meadows or fields
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Plant height
    25–45 cm
    Roots at lower stem nodes
    no
    Stem orientation
    the stems are upright
    Stem spacing
    the stems grow close together in compact clusters or tufts

Wetland Status

Not classified

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
absent
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
absent
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Maine
fairly widespread (S-rank: S4), special concern (code: SC)
Massachusetts
not applicable (S-rank: SNA)
New Hampshire
unrankable (S-rank: SU), Ind (code: Ind)

Native to North America?

Yes and no (some introduced)

Sometimes Confused With

Aristida dichotoma:
central awn 3-8 mm long and lateral awns 1-4 mm long, straight, and erect (vs. A. basiramea, with central awn 10-15 mm long and lateral awns 5-10 mm long, usually divergent from near the base).
Aristida longespica:
central awn not coiled at base and flowers either with 1 anther that is 0.2-0.3 mm long or 3 anthers that are 3-4 mm long (vs. A. basiramea, with central awn coiled at base 2 to 3 full turns and flowers with 3 anthers ca. 3 mm long).

Family

Poaceae

Genus

Aristida

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

1.  Aristida basiramea Engelm. ex Vasey n

Fork-tipped threeawn. MA, ME, NH, VT. Sandy, often sterile, soils of fields, grasslands, roadsides, and disturbed areas. Though this species is native to New England, it is considered non-native in MA.