Wiregrass (Aristida stricta)

Educational Story

Wiregrass, Aristida stricta, is an extremely important understory groundcover in flatwoods and sandhill ecosystems throughout the southeastern coastal plain. It is also sometimes referred to as Pineland threeawn.  This narrow leafed wiry grass grows in clumps and can reach heights of up to 2 feet.  Flowering stalks may be up to 3 feet, Wiregrass serves as an important food source for the threatened gopher tortoise and plays a vital role in carrying small natural fires across the landscape. Fire is a natural process that maintains these upland systems, and wiregrass depends on fire to reduce the area covered by shrubs and trees, and to open up space required for the grasses to persist.  Wiregrass need summer fires to stimulate flower and seed production.  Four different species of Aristida, occur in the Arboretum, but Aristida stricta, is the dominant wiregrass species. as UCF and throughout its range.

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Gardening Facts

Scientific Name: Aristida stricta
Common Name: Wiregrass; Pineland threeawn
Description of facts and concepts: Fast growing; regenerates quickly after fires; seeds are an important food source for some wildlife; helps maintain fuel loads for frequent lower-intensity ground fires.
Seed or division information: Seeds are collected after autumn fires
Date of flower’s bloom (Month and week): March-October
Ecoregion: Fast-draining sands, some flooding is okay
Color of Flower: Brown
Height: 1-4 feet
Spread: 1-3 feet
Family: Poaceae (Grass Family)
Soil Type: Base to Acidic Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil: Dry to Wet Dry, moist
Light: Sun to Shade Sun, part shade
Zone 8B-10A