Needle & thread

(Hesperostipa comata)




Synonyms
Stipa comata Trin. & Rupr.
Description
Needle and thread is a native perennial bunchgrass less than three feet tall. Its leaves are tightly inrolled, usually long, smooth and thread-like. Needle and thread flowers May to July. Its panicle is about eight inches long, contracted and narrow, its base usually enclosed in the upper sheath. Its spikelet is made up of one large flower. Most prominent is the awn, which is twice bent (sometimes faintly), and a very flexible outer section up to ten inches long.
Distribution and habitat
Needle and thread is found between 3,500 and 8,500 feet on sandy, rocky plateaus and valleys, often in association with juniper trees. Needle and thread flowers from May to August.
General information
The foliage of needle and thread is palatable to stock in the spring. After the flower stalks appear the herbage becomes so tough as to be almost disregarded by foraging animals. The awns are sometimes troublesome to stock. In some areas it is cut for hay.