Common needle grass (Aristida adscensionis L.) is an annual or short-lived perennial, tufted xerophilous grass (Quattrocchi, 2006; Skerman et al., 1990; Burkill, 1985; Bogdan, 1977). Aristida adscensionis varies widely in its morphology (eFloras, 2010). The culms are thin, erect or geniculate, stiff, simple or branching at the lower nodes, yellow to bright green in colour, becoming straw coloured when matured (Quattrocchi, 2006; Bogdan, 1977). The leaves are linear, narrow, up to 20 cm long (Bogdan, 1977). The inflorescences are panicles, up to 30 cm long, more often dense and narrow but sometimes lax and flexuous (Quattrocchi, 2006; Bogdan, 1977). The seed-heads are purplish with spikelets densely clustered on the branches. The spikelets are covered with three unequal, scabrous and 1-2.5 cm long awns, hence the American name six-weeks three awns or six-weeks triple-awn (Quattrocchi, 2006; Skerman et al., 1990). The seeds are very sharp (Quattrocchi, 2006; Bogdan, 1977). Species of the Aristida genus are all xerophilous grasses with stiff culms, narrow leaves covered with a thick cuticle well suited to dry climates (Gillet, 1961).
Aristida adscensionis is mainly used as fodder though its nutritive value quickly declines as it matures (Skerman et al., 1990). It is a very important forage in dry areas, especially during periods of feed scarcity (Burkill, 1985). It is considered one of the best annual grasses in Arizona (Skerman et al., 1990). It is used to make poor quality broomsticks in India and for thatching, weaving, as well as making sieves and stuffing material for camel saddles in Africa. It is used in ethno-medicine as a lactation stimulant for women and to prevent itch and ringworm (Quattrocchi, 2006; Burkill, 1985).