Plants perennial; usually cespitose, occasionally with rhizomes. Culms 30-80(100) cm, erect, unbranched. Leaves mostly basal; sheaths usually longer than the internodes, mostly glabrous, throat sometimes with hairs, not disintegrating into threadlike fibers; collars glabrous or with hairs at the sides; ligules 0.2-0.4 mm; blades 10-25(30) cm long, 1-3 mm wide, usually flat, often curling like wood shavings when mature, glabrous. Inflorescences spikelike panicles, 10-25 cm long, 1-3 cm wide; nodes glabrous or with straight, about 0.5 mm hairs; primary branches 2-6 cm, appressed, without axillary pulvini, with 2-8 spikelets. Glumes 10-15(18) mm, brownish, acuminate to awned, awns to 3 mm; lower glumes slightly shorter than to equaling the upper glumes, 1-2-veined; calluses 1-1.8 mm; lemmas 12-18 mm, glabrous, rarely sparsely pilose, terminating in a 3-6 mm twisted column, junction with the awns not conspicuous; awns 20-35 mm, straight to curved basally, ascending distally, not disarticulating at maturity; central awns 20-35 mm; lateral awns slightly shorter than the central awns; anthers 3, 1.3-1.9 mm. 2n = 22.
Okla., N.Mex., Tex., Utah, Colo., Ariz., Nev.
Aristida arizonica grows in pine, pine-oak, and pinyon-juniper woodlands from the southwestern United States to southern Mexico. It may be confused with A. purpurea var. nealleyi, but differs in having flat, curly leaf blades and longer awns.