5. Xyris caroliniana Walter, Flora Caroliniana, secundum . . . 69. 1788.
Xyris arenicola Small 1903, not Miquel 1844; X. conocephala Wright; X. flexuosa Muhlenberg ex Elliott; X. flexuosa var. pallescens (Mohr) Barnhart; X. pallescens Small; X. torta Kunth 1843, not Smith 1818; X. torta var. pallescens C. Mohr
Herbs, perennial, usually cespitose, 30--80(--100) cm, base deeply set. Stems compact. Leaves erect or ascending, 20--50 cm; sheath base chestnut brown; blade green, narrowly linear, twisted, 2--5 mm wide, compressed but fleshy, margins minutely tuberculate. Inflorescences: scape sheaths much exceeded by leaves; scapes linear, wiry, flexuous, nearly terete, 1.2--1.5 mm wide, distally 1-ribbed, rib smooth or somewhat scabrous; spikes ellipsoid to lanceoloid or cylindric, 10--30 mm, apex acute; fertile bracts 5--10(--13) mm, margins entire or erose, apex rounded. Flowers: lateral sepals conspicuously exserted, tan to reddish brown, nearly straight, 13--15 mm (including long hairs), keel firm, apex long-fimbriate, fimbriae red; petals unfolding in afternoon, blade obovate, 8--10 mm; staminodes bearded. Seeds translucent, cylindro-fusiform, 0.8--1 mm, with flat, longitudinal ribs. 2n = 18.
Flowering summer--fall. Moist sands of pine savannas, bog edges, upper shores, flatwoods, sandy coastal dune swales, coastal plain; 0--300 m; Ala., Fla., Ga., La., Miss., N.J., N.C., S.C., Tex., Va.; West Indies (Cuba).
In Florida and the lower Gulf Coastal Plain west to Mississippi are paler-leaved, white-petaled examples that have been treated as Xyris flexuosa var. pallescens (C. Mohr) Barnhart. These indeed are always in uniform populations but differ in no other significant way from the species. Since from typical plants. Because some other Xyris have white-flowered morphs (particularly X. platylepis), these are regarded as too close to be distinguished as varieties. Populational studies are in order, however.