Sorghastrum nutans (L.) Nash

Indian grass

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Indian grass, a tall, stiff grass native to North America, is found throughout New England in fields, woodland clearings, rocky shorelines and roadsides. It is planted as an ornamental grass, one of its attractions being the persistance of its dried stems during the winter.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), grassland, meadows and fields, shores of rivers or lakes, wetland margins (edges of wetlands), woodlands

Characteristics

Habitat
  • terrestrial
  • wetlands
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Leaf blade width
1–4 mm
Inflorescence branches
the flowers are attached to branches rather than to the main axis of the inflorescence
Spikelet length
5–8.7 mm
Glume relative length
both glumes are as long or longer than all of the florets
Awn on glume
the glume has no awn
One or more florets
there is one floret per spikelet
Lemma awn length
10–30 mm
Leaf ligule length
2–6 mm
Anther length
2–5 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Anther length
    2–5 mm
    Anther number
    3
    Awn on glume
    the glume has no awn
    Glume relative length
    both glumes are as long or longer than all of the florets
    Glume shape
    the glume is flat or curved in cross-section
    Glume veins
    • 5
    • 7 or more
    Inflorescence arrangement
    • the plant has two types of spikelets with different reproductive structures
    • the spikelets are uniform
    Inflorescence axis orientation
    • the inflorescence axis is arched or curved outward
    • the inflorescence axis is straight
    Inflorescence branches
    the flowers are attached to branches rather than to the main axis of the inflorescence
    Inflorescence length
    200–750 mm
    Inflorescence type (general)
    the spikelets are borne on stalks or on branches
    Inflorescence type (specific)
    the inflorescence has pairs (or trios) of spikelets, but with one always either missing a stalk or on a shorter stalk than the other
    Lemma awn base
    the awn is attached right at the tip of the lemma
    Lemma awn length
    10–30 mm
    Lemma awn number
    the lemma has one awn on it
    Lemma cross-section
    the lemma is flat or rounded if you cut across the midpoint
    Lemma surface
    the surface of the lemma is relatively smooth (not counting any longitudinal veins or hairs)
    Lemma tip
    the lemma tip is split into two or more points
    Lemma vein number
    1
    One or more florets
    there is one floret per spikelet
    Spikelet axis tip
    there is no extension of the spikelet axis beyond the tip of the spikelet
    Spikelet disintegration
    the spikelet breaks off below the glumes
    Spikelet length
    5–8.7 mm
    Spikelets spiny
    the spikelets do not appear spiny
  • Leaves
    Leaf blade width
    1–4 mm
    Leaf ligule length
    2–6 mm
    Leaf ligule type
    the leaf ligule is in the form of a membrane
    Leaf sheath closed around stem
    the margins of the leaf sheath are overlapping and not fused together except in the basal half (or less)
    Leaf sheath hairs
    • there are hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath
    • there are no hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath
  • Place
    Habitat
    • terrestrial
    • wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • edges of wetlands
    • grasslands
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • meadows or fields
    • shores of rivers or lakes
    • woodlands
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Stem orientation
    the stems are upright
    Stem spacing
    • the stems grow close together in compact clusters or tufts
    • the stems grow singly or a few together (they may form diffuse colonies)

Wetland Status

Occurs only in non-wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: UPL)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Maine
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), endangered (code: E)
Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)
Rhode Island
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), concern (code: C)
Vermont
uncommon (S-rank: S3)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Sorghum halepensse

Family

Poaceae

Genus

Sorghastrum

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