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Genus Aira Family Poaceae
Common Name: Hairgrasses

Description: Delicate annuals, with few to many slender culms in small tufts.

Leaves with ligule membranous, to 5 mm long; blade often convolute, soft, narrow, hairless.

Inflorescence an open or contracted panicle with very slender branches.

Spikelets pedicellate, small, rachilla disarticulating above the glumes and between the lemmas, laterally compressed with 2 bisexual florets. Glumes subequal, keeled, 1–3-nerved. Lemmas subequal to or shorter than the glumes, rounded on the back, firm, acute, obscurely 2–5-nerved, 2-fid with 2 slender teeth; a slender, geniculate, dorsal awn attached below the middle; sometimes 1 or both florets unawned; callus minutely pubescent. Palea slightly shorter than the lemma, narrow, 2-toothed.

Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 10 species, Europe, Asia & Africa. Australia: 5 species (naturalized), all States.

Aira species occur in dry, open habitats, often in disturbed areas, and are of little value as stock feed. Key from Wheeler et al. (1990).

Text by S. W. L. Jacobs & S. M. Hastings
Taxon concept:

 Key to the species 
1Panicle narrow and dense; branches short, erect; pedicels usually shorter than the spikeletsAira praecox
Panicle open, spreading with divaricate branches; pedicels 1–8 times as long as the spikelets2
2Pedicels 1–2 times as long as the spikelets; glumes acute or obtuse3
Pedicels 2–8 times as long as the spikelets; glumes acute
                       Back to 1
3Spikelets 2.5–3.5 mm long; lemma 75% the length of the acute glumes; both florets awnedAira caryophyllea
Spikelets 2–2.5 mm long; lemma 50–65% as long as the obtuse glumes; lower floret often unawned
                       Back to 2
Aira cupaniana
4Spikelets 1.2–2.5 mm long; pedicels tapering gradually to the wider apexAira elegantissima
Spikelets 3.5 mm long; pedicels club-shaped, abruptly tapered to the apex
                       Back to 2
Aira provincialis

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