Plant Guide > Grasses > Indian Grass

Indian Grass


Sorghastrum nutans (L.) Nash.

Indian Grass can hardly be passed unnoticed by the wayfaring man, even though he knows little of the herbage of the fields. Tall stems, leaves a foot in length, and panicles painted in colours of autumn are too striking to be ignored, although they are "nothing but grass."

Blooming in late summer, when the earlier grasses have faded, the long, hairy panicles of Indian Grass are not uncommon in dry fields and in dry places by the waysides. The stems and leaves are often deeply coloured, while the fertile spikelets are brilliant in chestnut-tinted scales and yellow anthers.

The soft, densely flowered panicles are rather narrow, and the perfect spikelets are awned, but the sterile spikelets are so reduced and altered that they resemble tiny plumes.

Indian Grass. Sorghastrum nutans (L.) Nash.

Stem 3-8 ft. tall, erect. Ligule 1"-2" long. Leaves 6'-18' long, 2"-8" wide.

Panicle 4'-12' long, dense, branches erect or slightly spreading. Spikelets 1-flowered, in pairs or 3's; 1 spikelet of each group sessile and perfect; sterile spikelets reduced to hairy pedicels; perfect spikelets 3"-4" long, hairy, shining chestnut brown; scales 4; flowering scale bearing a twisted awn 5"-10" long. Stamens 3, anthers yellow.

Dry soil, fields, waysides, and borders of woods. August to October.

Ontario to Manitoba, south to Florida, Texas, and Arizona.