Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Aristida ternipes
(spidergrass)

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Datasheet

Aristida ternipes (spidergrass)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 20 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Aristida ternipes
  • Preferred Common Name
  • spidergrass
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Monocotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Currently, A. ternipes is only listed as introduced and invasive in Cuba (Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012). However, because this species behaves as a weed in areas within i...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Aristida ternipes (spidergrass); habit. nr. Warner Springs, San Diego County, California, USA. October 2015.
TitleHabit
CaptionAristida ternipes (spidergrass); habit. nr. Warner Springs, San Diego County, California, USA. October 2015.
Copyright©Keir Morse/via CalPhotos/Berkeley Natural History Museums - CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
Aristida ternipes (spidergrass); habit. nr. Warner Springs, San Diego County, California, USA. October 2015.
HabitAristida ternipes (spidergrass); habit. nr. Warner Springs, San Diego County, California, USA. October 2015.©Keir Morse/via CalPhotos/Berkeley Natural History Museums - CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
Aristida ternipes (spidergrass); habit. nr. Warner Springs, San Diego County, California, USA. October 2015.
TitleHabit
CaptionAristida ternipes (spidergrass); habit. nr. Warner Springs, San Diego County, California, USA. October 2015.
Copyright©Keir Morse/via CalPhotos/Berkeley Natural History Museums - CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
Aristida ternipes (spidergrass); habit. nr. Warner Springs, San Diego County, California, USA. October 2015.
HabitAristida ternipes (spidergrass); habit. nr. Warner Springs, San Diego County, California, USA. October 2015.©Keir Morse/via CalPhotos/Berkeley Natural History Museums - CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
Aristida ternipes (spidergrass); habit. nr. Warner Springs, San Diego County, California, USA. October 2015.
TitleHabit
CaptionAristida ternipes (spidergrass); habit. nr. Warner Springs, San Diego County, California, USA. October 2015.
Copyright©Keir Morse/via CalPhotos/Berkeley Natural History Museums - CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
Aristida ternipes (spidergrass); habit. nr. Warner Springs, San Diego County, California, USA. October 2015.
HabitAristida ternipes (spidergrass); habit. nr. Warner Springs, San Diego County, California, USA. October 2015.©Keir Morse/via CalPhotos/Berkeley Natural History Museums - CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
Aristida ternipes (spidergrass); habit. nr. Warner Springs, San Diego County, California, USA. October 2015.
TitleHabit
CaptionAristida ternipes (spidergrass); habit. nr. Warner Springs, San Diego County, California, USA. October 2015.
Copyright©Keir Morse/via CalPhotos/Berkeley Natural History Museums - CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
Aristida ternipes (spidergrass); habit. nr. Warner Springs, San Diego County, California, USA. October 2015.
HabitAristida ternipes (spidergrass); habit. nr. Warner Springs, San Diego County, California, USA. October 2015.©Keir Morse/via CalPhotos/Berkeley Natural History Museums - CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
Aristida ternipes (spidergrass); spikelet. nr. Warner Springs, San Diego County, California, USA. October 2015.
TitleSpikelet
CaptionAristida ternipes (spidergrass); spikelet. nr. Warner Springs, San Diego County, California, USA. October 2015.
Copyright©Keir Morse/via CalPhotos/Berkeley Natural History Museums - CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
Aristida ternipes (spidergrass); spikelet. nr. Warner Springs, San Diego County, California, USA. October 2015.
SpikeletAristida ternipes (spidergrass); spikelet. nr. Warner Springs, San Diego County, California, USA. October 2015.©Keir Morse/via CalPhotos/Berkeley Natural History Museums - CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Aristida ternipes Cav.

Preferred Common Name

  • spidergrass

Other Scientific Names

  • Aristida divergens Vasey
  • Aristida scabra (Kunth) Kunth
  • Aristida schiedeana var. minor Vasey
  • Aristida tenuis (Kunth) Kunth
  • Aristida ternipes var. minor (Vasey) Hitchc.
  • Aristida ternipes var. ternipes
  • Muhlenbergia scabra (Kunth) Trin. & Rupr.
  • Muhlenbergia tenuis (Kunth) Trin. & Rupr.
  • Ortachne scabra (Kunth) E.Fourn.
  • Ortachne tenuis (Kunth) E.Fourn.
  • Streptachne cubensis A.Rich.
  • Streptachne scabra Kunth
  • Streptachne tenuis Kunth

International Common Names

  • English: hook three-awn; spider three-awn; spider-grass
  • Spanish: espartillo; tres barbas; zacate araña; zacatón

Local Common Names

  • Bahamas: spider grass
  • Mexico: tres barbas abierto; tres barbas arqueado; zacatón pija de perro
  • Nicaragua: zacate crin de macho

Summary of Invasiveness

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Currently, A. ternipes is only listed as introduced and invasive in Cuba (Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012). However, because this species behaves as a weed in areas within its native distribution range, its occurrence is commonly associated with habitat and soil disturbances (Allred, 2003).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Monocotyledonae
  •                     Order: Cyperales
  •                         Family: Poaceae
  •                             Genus: Aristida
  •                                 Species: Aristida ternipes

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Poaceae is one of the largest families in the Angiosperms, including 707 genera and 11,337 species widely distributed in all regions of the world (Stevens, 2012). The subfamily Aristidoideae is globally distributed, with many of its species found in drier habitats, although some unusual species are found in forest margins. They are often ecologically important, sometimes being the dominant grass in semiarid grasslands (Cerros-Tlatilpa et al., 2011). Aristida is a tropical to warm-temperate genus including 250-300 species. It grows throughout the world in dry grasslands and savannahs, sandy woodlands, arid deserts, and open, weedy habitats and on rocky slopes and mesas (Allred, 2003). The genus Aristida has four centres of diversity including (1) North America (USA and Mexico), (2) Central and South America (especially Brazil), (3) Australia, and (4) Africa (Cerros-Tlatilpa et al., 2011).

Description

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Perennial grass; cespitose. Culms 25-120 cm, wiry, erect to sprawling, unbranched. Leaves basal and cauline; sheaths usually longer than the internodes, glabrous; collars glabrous or strigillose; ligules less than 0.5 mm; blades 5-40 cm long, 1-2.5 mm wide, flat to folded, straight to lax at maturity, adaxial surfaces with scattered, 1.5-3 mm hairs near the ligule. Inflorescences paniculate, 15-40 cm long, (8)10-35(45) mm wide; rachis nodes glabrous or strigillose; primary branches 5-25 cm, remote, stiffly ascending to divaricate, with axillary pulvini, usually naked near the base; secondary branches and pedicels usually appressed. Spikelets usually congested. Glumes subequal, 9-15 mm, 1-veined, acuminate; calluses 1-1.2 mm; lemmas 9-15 mm long, smooth to tuberculate-scabrous, narrowing to slightly keeled, usually not twisted, 0.1-0.2 mm wide apices, junction with the awns not evident; awns unequal or almost equal, not disarticulating at maturity; central awns 8-25(30) mm, straight to arcuate at the base; lateral awns absent or to 0-23 mm; anthers 3, 1.2-2.4 mm. Caryopses 6-8 mm, light brownish (Allred, 2003).

There are two varieties accepted for this species (Allred, 2003):

  1.  Aristida ternipes var. gentilis: Awns subequal to unequal, ascending to spreading; central awns 10-25(30) mm; lateral awns (2) 6-23 mm. It grows on dry slopes and plains and along roadsides from California to Texas and south through Mexico to Guatemala.
  2.  Aristida ternipes var. ternipes: Awns markedly unequal; central awns 8-25 mm, straight to curving; lateral awns absent or to 2 mm, erect. It grows on dry slopes and plains and along roadsides, but its range is somewhat different, extending from Arizona to Texas south through Mexico and Central America to South America.

Plant Type

Top of page Grass / sedge
Perennial
Seed propagated

Distribution

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A. ternipes is native to southern United States, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean region, and northern South America (i.e., Colombia, and Venezuela; Clayton et al., 2015; USDA-ARS, 2015).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes

North America

BahamasPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2015)
BelizePresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2015)
Costa RicaPresentNativeHammel et al. (2003)
CubaPresentIntroducedInvasiveOviedo Prieto et al. (2012)
Dominican RepublicPresentNativeClayton et al. (2015)
El SalvadorPresentNativeClayton et al. (2015)
GuatemalaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2015)
HaitiPresentNativeClayton et al. (2015)
HondurasPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2015)
MexicoPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2015)Baja Norte, Baja Sur, Chihuahua, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Zacatecas, Aguas Calientes, Chiapas, Colima, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacan, Morelos, Nayarit, Oaxaca, Puebla, Queretaro, Veracruz, Yucatan
Turks and Caicos IslandsPresentNativeClayton et al. (2015)
United StatesPresentNativeCABI (Undated)Present based on regional distribution
-ArizonaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2015)
-CaliforniaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2015)
-NevadaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2015)
-New MexicoPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2015)
-TexasPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2015)

South America

ColombiaPresentNativeClayton et al. (2015)
EcuadorPresentNativeClayton et al. (2015)
VenezuelaPresentNativeClayton et al. (2015); Hokche et al. (2008)

History of Introduction and Spread

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A. ternipes appears in Cuban herbarium collections from 1906 (US National Herbarium).

Habitat

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A. ternipes grows in dry grasslands and savannahs, sandy woodlands, dry forests, oak forests, arid deserts, and open, weedy habitats and on rocky slopes (Allred, 2003; Pohl & Davidse, 2009; Vibrans, 2009). The presence of Aristida frequently indicates soil disturbance or abuse (Allred, 2003).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial – ManagedManaged grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Natural
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Natural
Deserts Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Deserts Present, no further details Natural
Arid regions Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Arid regions Present, no further details Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The chromosome number reported for the A. ternipes fluctuates from 2n = 22 to 2n = 24 (Allred, 2003). However, for the two varieties accepted in this species, the chromosome numbers varies from 2n = 44 in Aristida ternipes var. gentilis to 2n = 22, 44 in Aristida ternipes var. ternipes (Allred, 2003).

Physiology and phenology

In Mexico, A. ternipes has been recorded flowering and fruiting during the rainy season and the beginning of the dry season (Pohl and Davidse, 2009).

 Environmental requirements

Within and outside its native distribution range, A. ternipes occurs principally in dry and semiarid habitats from sea level to 1800 m (Pohl and Davidse, 2009).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
BS - Steppe climate Preferred > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
BW - Desert climate Preferred < 430mm annual precipitation
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
0 1800

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 13 24

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall300800mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Uniform

Soil Tolerances

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Soil reaction

  • acid
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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A. ternipes spreads by seeds that are mostly dispersed by wind. Florets and the caryopses are secondary dispersed by animals such as quail and small mammals which eat small amounts of the seed (Allred, 2003).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Animal productionForage/stock Yes Yes Allred, 2003
DisturbanceGrows on disturbed soils Yes Yes Allred, 2003
ForageForage/stock Yes Yes Allred, 2003

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Debris and waste associated with human activitiesForage/stock Yes Yes Allred, 2003
LivestockSeeds attached to fur and hair Yes Yes Allred, 2003
WindSeeds Yes Yes Allred, 2003

Environmental Impact

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Currently, A. ternipes is only listed as invasive in Cuba. On this island, A. ternipes is considered a transformer invasive species with the capability to change the character, condition, form or nature of native ecosystems (Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Gregarious
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
Impact mechanisms
  • Rapid growth
  • Rooting
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field

Uses

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A. ternipes is useful for grazing only at early stages of growth because of the presence of calluses, which are potentially harmful to grazing animals. Some species of Aristida are an important source of spring forage on western rangelands in the United States (Allred, 2003; Cerros-Tlatilpa et al., 2011).

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Fodder/animal feed
  • Forage

References

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Allred KW, 2003. Aristida L. In: Flora of North America, 25 [ed. by Barkworth et al. ]. 323. http://beta.floranorthamerica.org/wiki/Aristida_ternipes; http://openherbarium.org/portal/taxa/index.php?taxauthid=1&taxon=630208&cl=135

Cerros-Tlatilpa, R., Columbus, J. T., Barker, N. P., 2011. Phylogenetic relationships of Aristida and relatives (Poaceae, Aristidoideae) based on noncoding chloroplast (trnL-F, rpl16) and nuclear (ITS) DNA sequences. American Journal of Botany, 98(11), 1868-1886. http://www.amjbot.org/content/98/11/1868.abstract doi: 10.3732/ajb.1100103

Clayton WD, Govaerts R, Harman KT, Williamson H, Vorontsova M, 2015. World Checklist of Poaceae. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.https://wcsp.science.kew.org/

Hammel BE, Grayum MH, Herrera C, Zamora N, 2003. Manual of Plants of Costa Rica, Volume II: Gymnosperms and Monocotyledons (Agavaceae-Musaceae): Missouri Botanical Garden Press.694.

Hokche O, Berry PE, Huber O, 2008. Nuevo Catálogo de la Flora Vascular de Venezuela [New catalogue of the vascular flora of Venezuela], Caracas, Venezuela: Fundación Instituto Botánico de Venezuela.860.

Oviedo Prieto R, Herrera Oliver P, Caluff MG, et al. National list of invasive and potentially invasive plants in the Republic of Cuba - 2011. (Lista nacional de especies de plantas invasoras y potencialmente invasoras en la República de Cuba - 2011). Boletín sobre Conservación de Plantas del Jardín Botánico Nacional de Cuba, 6(Special Issue 1), 22-96.

Pohl RW, Davidse G, 2009. (Aristida). In: Flora de Nicaragua. Monographs in Systematic Botany, 85:2 [ed. by Stevens WD, Ulloa UC, Pool A, Montiel OM]. San Luis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden.

Stevens PF, 2012. Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/research/APweb/

USDA-ARS, 2015. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). National Germplasm Resources Laboratory.http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/tax_search.pl

USDA-NRCS, 2015. The PLANTS Database. Baton Rouge, USA: National Plant Data Center.http://plants.usda.gov/

Vibrans H, 2009. Weeds of Mexico. Alphabetical list of species, ordered by genera. (Malezas de México. Listado alfabético de las especies, ordenadas por género). http://www.conabio.gob.mx/malezasdemexico/2inicio/paginas/lista-plantas-generos.htm

Distribution References

CABI, Undated. CABI Compendium: Status inferred from regional distribution. Wallingford, UK: CABI

Clayton WD, Govaerts R, Harman KT, Williamson H, Vorontsova M, 2015. World Checklist of Poaceae., Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. https://wcsp.science.kew.org/

Hammel BE, Grayum MH, Herrera C, Zamora N, 2003. Manual of Plants of Costa Rica., Volume II: Gymnosperms and Monocotyledons (Agavaceae-Musaceae) Missouri Botanical Garden Press. 694.

Hokche O, Berry PE, Huber O, 2008. New catalogue of the vascular flora of Venezuela. (Nuevo Catálogo de la Flora Vascular de Venezuela)., Caracas, Venezuela, Fundación Instituto Botánico de Venezuela. 860 pp.

Oviedo Prieto R, Herrera Oliver P, Caluff M G, et al, 2012. National list of invasive and potentially invasive plants in the Republic of Cuba - 2011. (Lista nacional de especies de plantas invasoras y potencialmente invasoras en la República de Cuba - 2011). Bissea: Boletín sobre Conservación de Plantas del Jardín Botánico Nacional de Cuba. 6 (Special Issue No. 1), 22-96.

USDA-ARS, 2015. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN)., National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/tax_search.pl

USDA-NRCS, 2015. The PLANTS Database. Greensboro, North Carolina, USA: National Plant Data Team. https://plants.sc.egov.usda.gov

Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
Germplasm Resource Information Networkhttp://www.ars-grin.gov
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gatewayhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m93f6Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Grass Manual on the Webhttp://openherbarium.org/portal/projects/index.php?pid=9
Tropicos.org http://www.tropicos.org
USDA Plants Database http://plants.usda.gov
World Checklist of Selected Plant Familieshttps://wcsp.science.kew.org/home.do/

Contributors

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01/12/15 Original text by:

Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC. USA

Pedro Acevedo-Rodriguez, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH. Washington DC. USA

Distribution Maps

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