Friday, September 16, 2011

Native Plant of the Week: Indian Grass ~ Sorghastrum nutans

Indian Grass ~ Sorghastrum nutans


The golden inflorescence of Indian Grass is beautiful this time of year as the sun highlights the florets.

A tall, native perennial grass of prairies throughout much of North America, it reaches heights of 6 feet or more.
An extremely attractive grass when flowering and setting seed into the late fall, the florets fade to a chocolate brown color. Utilized in prairie restorations, this grass is adaptable to both moist and dry locations in part to full sun.
The grass blades are concentrated on the lower part of the clump, giving the flower stalks an open, airy appearance. This grass holds its form nicely, staying quite upright even through the winter months providing good interest.

According to the Illinois Wildflowers website, many species of grasshoppers feed upon the grass blades. The grasshoppers are sought out by insectivorous songbirds and upland game birds.

Indian Grass is native to the central and eastern North America. See map below for range.
Kartesz, J.T., The Biota of North America Program (BONAP).
2011. 
North American Plant Atlas. Chapel Hill, N.C.