Selected Plants of Navajo Rangelands
(a.k.a. Stipa speciosa, Achnatherum speciosa)
Desert needlegrass is a native, perennial bunchgrass that grows from 1 to 2 feet tall, typically on coarse soils, including alluvial fans, dry, rocky hills, talus slopes, and in canyons. It can tolerate low precipitation and usually occurs in areas that receive 6 to 20 inches annually. The long awns of desert needlegrass seed enable self-planting. Cycles of wetting and drying cause the awn to twist and untwist, which drives the seed into the ground.
Desert needlegrass tolerates light grazing. It is best to graze desert needlegrass before seed develops because the seed has a prominent, sharp callus that can injure the eyes and mouths of grazing animals.
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