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How to Identify Indian Grass

Indian Grass, Sorghastrum nutans, is a native, warm season grass of the tallgrass prairie. It is a robust bunchgrass that can grow between four and seven feet tall. Its stems are blue-green in color which can make it stand out from the surrounding foliage, and the leaves are over a foot long, tapering near their base. Indian Grass possesses a unique characteristic called horns, which are extra leafy material held above the leaf sheath, and there's a membranous ligule between them as well.

In the summer, Indian Grass produces a contracted panicle 6 to 12 inches in size. The numerous golden-orange spikelets with awns are covered in soft, silky hairs, and they can be found arranged along branches. If you catch it in bloom, you can see yellow anthers and white stigmas pushed out of the spikelets.

This video is part of the Grasses at a Glance series by Natural Resources, Environment, and Energy Educator Erin Garrett, University of Illinois Extension. Explore the playlist. Read our blog Grasses at a Glance.