Plant Guide > Grasses > Silvery Hair Grass

Silvery Hair Grass


Aira caryophyllea L.

Silvery Hair-grass is a tiny annual that has become only locally abundant since its accidental introduction from Europe. It is occasionally found in the sandy soil of waste fields, and in dry places by the wayside, where the Slender Fescue strives with small success to draw life from the unpromising ground.

Silvery Hairgrass is of slender growth, and its bristle-like leaves resemble those of a small plant of Wavy Hair-grass, which blooms a few weeks later.

Sand-growing annuals, like those near the deserts, are of rapid growth, and take advantage of a spring shower to grow, bloom, and mature their seeds in as short a time as possible. Therefore the Silvery Hair-grass early lifts its spreading panicles from the ground and opens the purplish spikelets for a day.

It is rarely a foot in height, and often much less than that, one of the smallest of the grasses that bloom in the Eastern States, and silvery, as its name implies, as the colour fades from the blossoms, and the empty scales, shining and translucent, remain on the panicles long after the ripened seeds, with their adherent flowering scales, have floated away on the breeze.

Silvery Hair-grass. Aira caryophyllea L.

Annual. Naturalized from Europe.

Stem 4'-12' tall, slender, erect. Ligule about 1" long. Leaves bristle-form, 1/2'-2' long.

Panicle 1'-4' long, very open, branches hair-like, spikelet-bearing toward the extremities. Spikelets 2-flowered, 1"-1 1/2" long, green and rose-purple, turning silvery and translucent in fading. Scales 4; outer scales acute, equal; flowering scales acute, 2-toothed, awned; awns slender, 2" long or less. Stamens 3.

Dry soil and waste places. May to July.

Massachusetts to Virginia, also on the Pacific Coast.