Sorghastrum nutans - Indian Grass
- Sorghastrum nutans is a native perennial warm season grass with upright, blue-green foliage that turns orange-yellow in fall. Light brown flower panicles appear on 5' stems in late summer that turn to chestnut brown in the fall and then gray in winter. Indian grass imparts a special beauty and drama to the landscape in autumn. Plant with Little Bluestem, goldenrods and asters for a fabulous fall combination. Indian grass is a wonderful drought resistant meadow grass and a desirable native component in most eastern North American grasslands. Attractive to both wildlife and pollinators.
Sorghastrum Nutans Botany - By John Hilty
Botanical illustration (WA State Library)
Indian grass seedhead. (Lavin)
Food source for grasshoppers, which are then a food source for "many insectivorous songbirds and upland game birds" (Hilty). "Because of its height and tendency to remain erect, it provides nesting habitat and protective cover for many kinds of birds, including the Ring-necked Pheasant, Greater Prairie Chicken, Northern Bobwhite, Mourning Dove, and Field Sparrow (see Walkup, 1991; Best, 1978)."
(1) Adult male Northern Bobwhite (BS Thurner Hof)
(2) Mourning dove (Joe Ferreira)
(3) Field Sparrow (Andy Morffew)
(4) Greater Prairie Chicken (Ron Knight)
Indian Grass uses according to USDA:
- Erosion control: Indiangrass can be used on critical area seeding, for roadside cover, and on areas subject to wind erosion.
- Livestock: Indiangrass can be used singly or in mixtures for livestock forage on rangeland, pastureland, and hayland.
- Wildlife: Indiangrass is excellent for wildlife habitat
and food for deer.
Type: Ornamental grass
Native Range: Eastern and central United States
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 3.00 to 5.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: September to February
Bloom Description: Light brown with yellow stamens
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Good Dried
Leaf: Good Fall
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought, Erosion, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil, Black Walnut, Air Pollution
Second cover: By Mason Brock (Masebrock) - Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32023583
Third cover: By Matt Lavin from Bozeman, Montana, USA - Sorghastrum nutansUploaded by Jacopo Werther, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25134719
"Indian Grass or Wood Grass - Sorghum Nutana"From the October 1880 edition of West Shore (Page 272 pdf page 20),
is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
By Matt Lavin from Bozeman, Montana, USA - Sorghastrum nutansUploaded by Jacopo Werther, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25138554
Mourning Dove: By Joe Ferreira, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://www.flickr.com/photos/41723647@N08/14920960545>
Hilty, John. Grasses, Sedges, Rushes, & Non-Flowering Plants. http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/grasses/grass_index.htm#ind_grass. Accessed 21 Jan. 2022.