Plant Detail

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Sorghastrum nutans

* Common Name:

Indian grass, yellow Indian grass

* Genus:

Sorghastrum

* Species:

nutans

Subspecies:

* Family (scientific):

Poaceae

* Family (common):

Grass

Synonyms :

Andropogon nutans, Sorghastrum avenaceum

* Distribution in Canada:

Saskatchewan
Manitoba
Ontario
Quebec

 

Photographer: Jennifer Anderson @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database.

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Habitat

Ecozone(s):

Boreal Shield
Mixedwood Plains
Prairies

Natural Habitat(s):

Savannah (25-35% cover)
Forest Edge
Prairie/Meadow/Field

Habitat Garden(s):

Rooftop Garden (drought tolerant/shallow rooted)
Butterfly
Bird
Prairie/Meadow

Erosion Control? Yes

Characteristics
 
Growing Conditions

* Plant Type:

Grass/Sedge

Moisture Requirements: Dry, Normal, Moist

Light Requirements: Sun, Partial Shade

Soil Requirements: Clay, Sand, Loam

Temperature Zone:

Evergreen?

No

Average Height:

0.9 to 2.4 m

Tolerances:

Drought Tolerant
Compaction Tolerant

Flower Info
 
Fruit/Seed Info

Showy flowers?

Yes

Showy fruit/seeds?

Yes

Bloom time:

Aug to Sep

Edible for humans?

No

Flower Colour(s):

Yellow

Fruit/Seed Colour(s):

Amber, Brown

Miscellaneous
 
Uses

Fragrant Flowers?

No

Urban Oasis, Stewards in the City, and Eco Superior are specific Evergreen programs that some plants are used in.

Fragrant Foliage?

No

Program & Other Uses:

Urban Oasis

Fall colours?

Yes

Distinctive bark?

Poisonous to humans?

Thorns or prickles?

Attracts wildlife?

Squirrels
Birds
Butterflies
Butterfly Larvae
Other Showy Insects

Larval host for:

Pepper and Salt Skipper butterfly, Wood Satyr Butterfly

Provincial tree/flower?

Plant Watch species?

No

Interesting Tidbits
 
References

Warm season grass with rich gold and purple sprays of flowers and seeds in the fall. (Ontario Native Plants 2002)

Although this grass grows best in deep, well drained flood soils, it is also tolerant of drought, acidity or alkalinity or all textures of soil from clay to sand. It provides wildlife habitat and good food for deer. (USDA Plants)

Attracts skipper butterflies.

It provides wildlife habitat for small mammals and seed for birds.

Planted in clumps for landscaping, it is attractive all year round, providing fall colour and winter interest. (Kemper Center for Gardening)

Habitat Information: This grass has very long roots, like many prairie plants, in response to extreme drought. (Evergreen) Its roots can grow as long as 10.5 feet, common in a Tall Grass Prairie Species, the most endangered habitat in North America. (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources)

Insect Relationships: Indian grass is food for the wood satyr and common wood nymph butterflies. Found within the range in Southern Ontario where prairie occurs. This is not considered a Toronto native plant. Indian grass is a later successional species in prairie habitats. (Delaney, Rodger, Woodliffe, Morris & Rhynard, 2000) White tailed deer, bobwhite quail use for escape, shelter, and other small mammals eat seeds. (USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service) Bison and cattle readily eat this plant. (Illinois Wildflowers)

Garden Uses: The Latin name for this plant nutans means nodding. (Tall Grass Ontario) Indian Grass is very attractive when grown as a speciment or focal point in the garden. It is a clump forming grass. (Rhynard, G., as cited in Johnson, L., The new Ontario Naturalized Garden, 1999) This plant can be aggressive in some soils. (Rhynard, G., as cited in Johnson, L., The new Ontario Naturalized Garden, 1999) This grass is quite showy, with a seed head almost like a bronze feather. A large field of this grass shines copper, vs. big bluestem, another grass which is also a tall grass species occupying the same habitat shines purple and blue. (Evergreen) This grass is also very nutritious for livestock. (Tall Grass Ontario)

Insect Relationships: Grasshoppers which are critically important food to many insectivorous songbirds and upland gamebirds. Others include the leafhopper Flexamia reflexus, planthopper Myndus fulvus, Issid planthopper Bruchomorpha extensa, caterpillars of Amblyscirtes hegon (pepper and salt skipper). (Illinois Wildflowers)

Traditional Edible Uses: Provides excellent food for livestock when green and young, and medium quality when mature. (USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service)

USDA PLANTS Database

NatureServe

Kemper Center for Home Gardeni

Illinois Wildflowers

Ontario Native Plants: 2002 Resource Guide
Ontario Native Plants Company
2002

National Audubon Society: Field Guide to North American Wildflowers, Eastern Region
National Audubon Society
Alfred A. Knopf, New York
1979
ISBN: 0-394-50432-1

York University Greenroof project; Gavin Miller; 2004-2005

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