Spike pappusgrass

(Enneapogon desvauxii P. Beauv.)

Spike pappusgrass is a slender- stemmed perennial bunchgrass, 4 to 18 inches tall. Plants are usually rather more culms than leaves. Individual stems tend to bend at the joints. The slender leaves are inrolled or folded, light green to gray-green with very fine, soft hairs. The culms are sometimes purplish. The densely flowered, bristly looking spikes are highly variable in length, but are usually from 1 to 2 inches long by about to 3/4 inch wide, gray-green in color. The spike pappusgrass lemma has nine plumose awns so that the floret resembles a miniature shuttlecock.
Distribution and habitat
Common throughout most of the state below 6,000 feet on dry plains and rocky hills. It flowers from August to September.
General information
Pappusgrass is moderately palatable, more so during the summer rainy season than in the spring. The plants are most palatable before the numerous hairy seedheads develop. The stems often remain alive as late as November, which makes this grass valuabl e for late fall grazing. This grass seems to be rather short-lived for a perennial. However, it is a prolific seeder and re-establishes rapidly and abundantly during seasons of good rainfall. When found together with other grasses these are usually more p alatable than pappusgrass. As a result pappusgrass is grazed rather lightly until late in the season, when it is partially cured and can withstand heavier use. Like all grasses, however, it can be wiped out by continued overuse.