Indian ricegrass

(Achnatherum hymenoides)




Synonyms
Oryzopsis hymenoides (Roem. & Schult.) Ricker; Stipa hymenoides Roem. & Schult.
Description
Indian ricegrass is a bunchgrass perennial 1 to 2 feet tall. Rather dark green when growing, it turns light straw-color when cured. The numerous slender leaves are inrolled and often as long as the flower stalks. Each inflorescence has several spreadi ng branches, which divide and re-divide. The spikelets appear singly at the ends of very thin and kinky pedicels. Each spikelet has only one flower. The glumes are thin and transparent. The lemma and palea permanently enclose the plump grain and drop toge ther leaving the glume behind. Indian ricegrass flowers from May to August.
Distribution and habitat
Indian ricegrass is found between 3,500 and 7,000 feet, primarily in sandy soils of open plains and hills, although it is by no means restricted to such areas. It frequently grows in areas with shadscale and winterfat and can stand moderate amounts of alkali. It flowers in July and August.
General information
Indian ricegrass is highly palatable to all classes of livestock. It cures exceptionally well and is valued as a winter feed for cattle, sheep and horses. The seeds, which stay on the plant, are large and high in protein. They are responsible to a con siderable degree for the value of the grass as a winter feed. Indian ricegrass should be lightly grazed during the spring to give the nutritious seeds a chance to develop. If the plants are grazed close early in the season, seed production as well as vigo r of the plants will be reduced. Areas having lots of this grass are often best reserved for winter grazing. Grazing then, when the plants are dormant, will help these ranges stay in top condition.