Desert needlegrass

(Achnatherum speciosum)

Stipa speciosa Trin. & Rupr.
Desert needlegrass grows in dense clumps up to two feet tall. The leaf blades are firm, most inrolled and up to a foot long. When the dried leaves have weathered away the shiny lower sheaths remain on the culms. Desert needlegrass has contracted panic les, 2 to 6 inches long, partly contained in the upper sheath and not extending far above blades. The unequal glumes are membranous on the outer edges and have a prominent midvein. The lemma is only half that and covered by short hairs. Its awn first twis ts tightly and then makes a sharp bend after about half an inch, continuing only slightly twisted for another inch at most.
Distribution and habitat
Desert needlegrass grows in rocky or sandy plains or hills up to 7,000 feet. It flowers from March to June.
General information
Desert needlegrass offers tough but nutritious forage.