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Yavapai County Native & Naturalized Plants

Achnatherum speciosum - Barkworth desert needlegrass

Synonyms: Stipa speciosa, Pappostipa speciosa

Plant Form:Grass

Family: Poaceae

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Plant and blades

Max Licher @, Usage Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA)
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Max Licher @, Usage Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA)
Plant image

Max Licher @, Usage Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA)
  Grass Description -   Glossary of Grass Terminology

Origin: Native    Season: Cool
Habitat Description: Coarse rocky soils with little or no profile development such as alluvial fans, dry rocky hills and talus slopes.
Plant Communities: Desert Scrub, Interior Chaparral, Semidesert Grasslands, Pinyon Juniper Woodland
Elevation: 2000 - 6500 feet

General Description

Desc: A short perennial bunchgrass reaching a height of 1 to 2 feet. Leaf blades are thin and rolled along the edges. The inflorescence is up to 2 inches long and is dense and fluffy. Each spikelet is very hairy and has a bent awn coated in long hairs.
Identification notes: A robust plant with firm glumes, hairy collars and 1 inch once bent awns that have a straight terminal segment. The seedhead is branched but narrow as branching is appressed.
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 - contracted  Seedhead Droops: N
Flowering Period: Mar - Jun

Flower Characteristics

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

Flower and Seedhead Notes: Each spikelet is very hairy and has a bent awn which is coated in long hairs. The inflorescence is compact, 4 to 6 inches long and generally partly enclosed by the uppermost leaf sheath.

Vegetative Characteristics

Blade Hairy: Y  Blade with White Margin: N  Blade Cross Section: Involute  
Blade Notes: Leaves mostly basal and below the middle of stems with leaves sheathing at bases. Leaf blades very narrow with rolled margins and more or less hairy.
Sheath Hairy: Y  Tuft of Hairs Top of Sheath or Collar: Y  Ligules: Membranous and hairy
Auricles (Ear-like lobes at base of blades): N
Vegetative Notes: The leaf basal sheath is hairy, leaf blade is generally rolled, and the ligule is short and hairy. The stiff awn and the sharp tip of the spikelet make the seeds hazardous for animals.

Forage Value: Desert needlegrass is palatable to all classes of livestock and wildlife such as desert bighorn sheep and feral burros when young. After it matures it is moderately grazed by horses and cattle, but is often avoided by other livestock such as sheep.

  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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