Selected Plants of Navajo Rangelands
Ch'il Bilata dee'ni'ni'
(a.k.a. Hesperostipa comata, Stipa comata, Stipa cometa, spear-grass)
Needle-and-threadgrass is a native perennial bunch grass. It ranges in height from 1 to 4 feet. It has narrow basal leaves 3 to 12 inches long with the blade usually rolled inward.
The mature spikelet has a long, hairy, spiraling awn.
Needle-and-threadgrass appears in many habitat types, including forest, grassland, and shrub-steppe communities. It reproduces by seed and tillers. Because of a long awn needle-and-thread grass seeds can embed themselves in the soil by a twisting action of the awn in response to daily humidity changes. This sharp awn may injure grazing animals, especially domestic sheep.
Needle-and-threadgrass is grazed by all livestock, particularly in the spring and fall when green, but it also cures well to provide dormant season grazing.
Description is partially drawn from the USDA USFS Fire Effects Information System.
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