Pityopsis aspera

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Pityopsis aspera
Pityopsis aspera and butterfly KMR 2011 Avalon.jpg
Photo taken by Kevin Robertson
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae ⁄ Compositae
Genus: Pityopsis
Species: P. aspera
Binomial name
Physalis arenicola
(Shuttlw. ex Small) Small
PITY ASPE dist.jpg
Natural range of Physalis arenicola from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common name: pineland silkgrass

Taxonomic notes

Synonyms: Chrysopsis graminifolia (Michaux) Elliott, misapplied; Heterotheca adenolepsis (Fernald) H.E. Ahles; Pityopsis adenolepsis (Fernald) Semple; Heterotheca aspera (Shuttleworth ex Small) Shinners[1]

Varieties: Pityopsis aspera (Shuttleworth ex Small) Small var. adenolepsis (Fernald) Semple & F.D. Bowers; P. aspera (Shuttleworth ex Small) Small var. aspera; Heterotheca adenolepsis (Fernald) H.E. Ahles; Heterotheca graminifolia (Michaux) Shinners, misapplied[1]


The basal leaves are longer than the stem leaves, which strongly reduce upward. The lower leaves are silky-pubescent while the mid to upper stem leaves are glabrate and noticeably stipitate-glandular along the margins. The stems are glandular to the base. There are fewer than 10 flower heads and the involucres are 4.5-8 mm high.[1]


This plant ranges from the eastern Florida Panhandle to adjacent central Georgia.[1]



P. aspera is distributed across southern Georgia and northern Florida[2] and is commonly found in Florida sandhill community.[3] Habitats documented include longleaf wiregrass sandhills, deep sand banks along hardwood hammocks, open pinewoods, longleaf pine/turkey oaks, scrub oak barrens, longleaf pine savannas, sand pine-evergreen oak scrubs, a high bluff, and chestnut oak woods.[4] In disturbed areas it grows in beds of old railroads, roadsides with bahia grass, a clearing of mixed pine-hardwood stand, harrowed areas, bordering fields, and on golf course edges alongside broomsage.[4] Additionally, P. aspera is an indicator species for the Panhandle Xeric Sandhills community type as described in Carr et al. (2010).[5] Associated soil types include sand, dry loamy sand, dry clayey sand, gray sand, wet soil, dry sand-clay bank, loam soil, red clay bank, and gravelly-clay.[4]

Associated species include Pityopsis flexuosa, Pinus palustris, Aristida stricta, Chrysopsis latisquamea, Chrysopsis gossypina Quercus, Paronychia, bahia grass, Haplopappus divaricatus, Eupatorium pinnatifidum, Lechea, Diodia teres, Dicanthelium, Lespedeza hirta, Polygonella gracilis, Vaccinium arboreum, sandpine, Microcephala, Liatris, Panicum, Leptoloma cognata, Phoebanthus, Scleria ciliata, Helianthus microcephalus, Helianthus atrorubens, Silphium compositum, Eupatorium, Heterotheca latifolia and chestnut oak.[4]


P. aspera flowers from August through October.[1]

Fire ecology

P. aspera occurs in areas with an estimated pre-settlement fire-return interval of 1-3 years[2] and flowers within two months of burning in early summer.[6] Populations have been known to persist through repeated annual burns.[7][8]

Conservation, cultivation, and restoration

Cultural use

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Weakley, A.S. 2020. Flora of the Southeastern United States. Edition of 20 October 2020. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Gowe, A. K. and J. S. Brewer (2005). "The evolution of fire-dependent flowering in goldenasters (Pityopsis spp.)." Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 132: 384-400.
  3. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Downer 2012
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Florida State University Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium database. URL: http://herbarium.bio.fsu.edu. Last accessed: July 2015. Collectors: John B. Nelson, R.K. Godfrey, John Morrill, Loran C. Anderson, Douglas E. Kennemore, Jr., R. Komarek, Kevin Oakes, M. Davis, Bruce Hansen, JoAnn Hansen, Lloyd H. Shinners, Kurt E. Blum, Sidney McDaniel, R. Kral, Richard D. Houk, H. E. Grelen, A. F. Clewell, Paul L. Redfearn, Jr., Gary R. Knight, Jean Wooten, Richard S. Mitchell, A. Dobay, Krista Heine, Batson, Wilbur H. Duncan, Krista Heine, A. Dobay, John H. Beaman, William B. Fox, A.B. Seymour, Angus Gholson, C. Ritchie Bell, W.J. Dress, R.V. Moran, Samuel B. Jones, Jr., Cindi Stewart, MacClendons. States and Counties: Florida: Baker, Bay, Calhoun, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Grady, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Union, Wakulla, Walton, Washington. Georgia: Baker, Bartow, Bulloch, Clayton, Decatur, Grady, Houston, Macon, Taylor, Thomas, Upson. South Carolina: Aiken, Chester, York. North Carolina: Alegheny, Alexander, Burke, Gatson, Johnston, McDowell, Moore, Richmond, Rutherford, Surry, Wake. Virginia: Brunswick. Mississippi: Forrest, Harrison, Lamar. Alabama: Baldwin, Barbour, Covington, Geneva, Lee, Mobile. Compiled by Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.
  5. Carr, S.C., K.M. Robertson, and R.K. Peet. 2010. A vegetation classification of fire-dependent pinelands of Florida. Castanea 75:153-189.
  6. Robertson, Kevin M. 2014. Personal observation.
  7. Robertson, K.M. Unpublished data collected from Pebble Hill Fire Plots, Pebble Hill Plantation, Thomasville, Georgia.
  8. Platt, W.J., R. Carter, G. Nelson, W. Baker, S. Hermann, J. Kane, L. Anderson, M. Smith, K. Robertson. 2021. Unpublished species list of Wade Tract old-growth longleaf pine savanna, Thomasville, Georgia.