Selected Plants of Navajo Rangelands

Take care of our Navajo Rangelands

Needle-and-threadgrass
Ch'il Bilata dee'ni'ni'
(a.k.a. Hesperostipa comata, Stipa comata, Stipa cometa, spear-grass)

Bunchy growth habit and upright stems

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.

Graceful shape of the long awns of this species
Seed with awns and papery lemmas
Chestnut brown seed with its awn
The very long delicate awn characteristic of this species

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