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Plant - summer
Page, AZ
Sue Smith
Yavapai County Native & Naturalized Plants

Achnatherum hymenoides - Indian ricegrass

Synonyms: Eriocoma cuspidata, Oryzopsis hymenoides, Stipa hymenoides

Plant Form:Grass

Family: Poaceae

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  Grass Description -   Glossary of Grass Terminology

Origin: Native    Season: Warm
Habitat Description: Open, dry sandy plains and hills, often in juniper woodlands. Grows in dry well drained soils. Good colonizer in sandy soils.
Plant Communities: Interior Chaparral, Semidesert Grasslands, Pinyon Juniper Woodland
Elevation: 3500 - 6500 feet

General Description

Desc: A leafy perennial bunchgrass 1 to 2 feet tall. Sage-green, wiry foliage and ivory-colored diffuse and branching seedheads give the grass an overall light, airy appearance.
Identification notes: Densely tufted perennial. Fringe of hairs at the blade collar. Blades tightly inrolled. Seedhead diffuse, with dichotomous branching that diverges widely. Spikelets one-flowered on stems. Glumes 5 to 8 mm, lemmas hairy, awns 3 to 6 mm.
Grass Type: Perennial bunchgrass  Rhizomes: N  Stolons: N
Large Dense Clump (> 2 feet): N  Bushy (highly branched): N
Height with Seedheads: 12 to 24 inches
Seedhead Structure: Branched - open and spreading  Seedhead Droops: N
Flowering Period: May - Aug

Flower Characteristics

Number of Flowers per Spikelet: One-flowered  Spikelets One-sided: N
Awns: Less than 1/4 inch   Three Awns: N  Awns Bent: Y

Flower and Seedhead Notes: Seedheads are very open and widely spreading, branches terminally split into 2 branches. Seed is plump, dark-colored and rice-like. Awns are stout, <1/4 inch long. Lemmas have long white hairs that turn black when mature.

Vegetative Characteristics

Blade Hairy: Y  Blade with White Margin: N  Blade Cross Section: Involute  
Blade Notes: Blades are firm, narrow, rolled longitudinally, <1/16 inch in diameter and 2 to 12 inches long. Bottom surfaces are smooth or roughened with stout projections; top surfaces are clothed with soft hairs or down.
Sheath Hairy: Y  Tuft of Hairs Top of Sheath or Collar: Y  Ligules: Membranous
Auricles (Ear-like lobes at base of blades): N
Vegetative Notes: Sheaths smooth or slightly roughened with stout hairs <1/16 inch; collars smooth or sometimes with tufts of hair on the sides, hairs to 1/16 inch. Ligules <1/8 inch, membranous, colorless and translucent and sharply pointed.

Forage Value: Very good. Indian ricegrass is highly palatable to livestock and wildlife.

  Arizona Cooperative Extension
Yavapai County
840 Rodeo Dr #C
Prescott, AZ 86305
(928) 445-6590
Version 8.0  
Last Updated: Nov 21, 2021
Content Questions/Comments: Email Mary Barnes  
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