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What Is Wire Grass?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 16 August 2014
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Wire grass, also spelled wiregrass, is a grass species native to the Southern United States. It is commonly found in an area sometimes called the Wiregrass Region after this distinctive and persistent grass species, most commonly seen around pine forests, sandy areas, and some marshes. In the natural environment, wire grass is a source of food and shelter for many animal species, and it is an important part of some ecosystems. For gardeners, the grass can sometimes be a nuisance because it grows so enthusiastically.

As the name suggests, wire grass is distinguished by very wiry leaves, which are typically also quite long. The grass grows during the warm season, going dormant in cooler weather. Wire grass has also specifically adapted to germinate quickly after a fire, as some of the regions where it grows are prone to periodic fires. The grass needs fire to survive, and is often one of the first plants to re-emerge after a fire.

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The scientific name for wire grass is Aristida stricta. People may sometimes refer to Bermudagrass, a different grass species, as wire grass, and the plant is also sometimes confused with other grasses which have wiry leaves. Another common name for the plant is pineland three-awn, a reference to the regions where it grows and the structure of its flowers. Because there is a great deal of overlap in grass nomenclature, it helps to ask for the scientific name of a grass rather than relying on the common name when discussing grasses and grass management.

Many animals eat wire grass, and the clumps of grass also provides shelter for small animals, nesting materials for birds, and so forth. The rapid germination of this grass allows it to grow very quickly, especially in the wake of a fire, which can be beneficial for animals seeking forage when other foliage is not available. The plant is also very opportunistic, quickly taking advantage of openings in the natural environment to get a foothold in new places.

In the natural world, it is often easy to spot wire grass because of the long, wiry leaves. At the base of the plant, it is not uncommon to see shorter, fuzzy leaves in a lighter color. Wire grass grows in clumps which may become elevated over time due to the deposition of dead plant material. After a fire, the clumps are often very visible because other groundcover has been burned away.

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Discuss this Article

goldensky
Post 2

@MsClean - I certainly do sympathize with you over your wire grass problem. I used to live in the Southeast part of the United States and wire grass was a problem for many folks down there.

I had a gardener come out and treat mine once a year I believe sometime around October or November when the weather cooled down and the wire grass becomes dormant.

I remember he soaked the area that was infested with the troublesome weed and then drenched it some more with a chemical, I think it was like a professional grade roundup. Your local nursery should be able to provide you with a professional strength herbicide.

Anyway once the area dried, my gardener tilled it and then laid new sod of St. Augustine grass. I was advised to keep the lawn at a height no less than three inches. The taller grass was supposed to shadow the wire grass which stunted it's growth and I eventually killed it since it no longer received direct sunlight.

I hope this helps. You might have to hire a professional gardener or landscaper like I did. I remember how persistent it is and what a pain it was to try and remove it from my flower beds every summer. Good luck to you and your lawn.

MsClean
Post 1

I came across this article hoping to find a solution to killing the wire grass that has grown so out of control in my yard and garden.

I certainly agree with the part of the article that states what a nuisance it can be for gardeners. Please does anyone know how to get rid of this stuff?

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