(Sorghastrum nutans)

Conservation Status
Photo by Bill Reynolds
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland


FACU - Facultative upland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland


There is a split ligule at the base of the leaf where it clasps the stem. The shape has been compared to a rifle sight, hammer claw, or rabbit ears. The leaf narrows where it connects to the stem.

If you lightly hold the base of the flowering head of Indiangrass and run your hand upwards, the head will feel smooth and silky. With most other grasses, the head will feel rougher to the touch.




5 to 7


Similar Species


Dry to moderate moisture. Prairies. Full sun.




August to September


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 28, 29, 30.









Indiangrass is one of the most dominant grasses of the tallgrass prairie.

  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Liliopsida (monocots)  


Poales (grasses, sedges, cattails, and allies)  


Poaceae (grasses)  
  No Rank PACMAD clade  
  Subfamily Panicoideae (bristlegrasses, bluestems, paspalums, and allies)  
  Tribe Andropogoneae (bluestems, lemon grasses, silvergrasses, and allies)  
  Subtribe Sorghinae (Johnsongrasses, milos, Sudangrasses, Indiangrasses, and allies)  


Sorghastrum (Indiangrasses)  



Andropogon albescens

Andropogon arenaceus

Andropogon avenaceum

Andropogon avenaceus

Andropogon ciliatus

Andropogon confertus

Andropogon linnaeanus

Andropogon nutans

Andropogon nutans var. avenaceus

Andropogon nutans var. linnaeanus

Chalcoelytrum nutans

Chrysopogon avenaceus

Chrysopogon nutans

Chrysopogon nutans var. avenaceus

Chrysopogon nutans var. linnaeanus

Digitaria nutans

Holcus nutans

Holcus nutans var. avenaceus

Poranthera cilata

Poranthera ciliata

Poranthera nutans

Rhaphis nutans

Sorghastrum albescens

Sorghastrum avenaceum

Sorghastrum linnaeanum

Sorghastrum nutans ssp. nutans

Sorghum avenaceum

Sorghum nutans

Sorghum nutans ssp. avenaceum

Sorghum nutans subvar. avenaceum

Sorghum nutans var. genuinum

Sorghum nutans ssp. linnaeanum

Stipa villosa

Trichachne nutans


Common Names


Indian grass


prairie plume grass

wood grass

yellow Indian grass













In grasses, a membranous appendage at the junction of the leaf and the leaf sheath.

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Bill Reynolds


These images are of Yellow Indiangrass being worked by a Honey Bee for it's pollen. From my google research, I've not found this interaction between these two species.

  western honey bee  
    western honey bee   Indiangrass  




    Indiangrass   Indiangrass  








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Other Videos
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Published on Dec 29, 2014

Sorghastrum nutans

Perennial tallgrass, 2 to 6 feet
Bunchy with short rhizomes
Dense, golden-yellowish
Leaves are stiff and straight
Lighter green leaves than of big bluestem

Southeast Canada, central and eastern United States, Mexico
Absent west of Great Plains

Makes excellent hay
Seeds used by game birds, finches, juncos, tree sparrows
Also used by Meadow and Pocket mice

Read more about it here:

  Indian Grass on the Prairie Orchard, August 16, 2014
The Prairie Orchard

Published on Aug 22, 2014

One of the other common, conspicuous, warm season grasses of the Tallgrass Prairie. A feathered gold flower atop a blue green stem.

  Sorghastrum nutans (indian grass) hygroscopic awn, time lapse
Josh Drizin

Published on May 31, 2012

This is a Sorghastrum nutans diaspore (seed and seed coat). The part that spins is the awn. The awn was "primed" in a humid environment and allowed to spin in a less humid environment. This is a 10x speed up.

  Indiangrass - Sorghastrum nutans

Published on Aug 24, 2012

Earthyman views Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans) at Ion Exchange, native seed and plant nursery in NE Iowa. Indiangrass is a perennial native prairie grass.

  Indian Grass (9/25/04)

Published on Jun 7, 2013

Host Steve Owens talks about native Indian Grass, an excellent ornamental grass for the landscape.




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Afton State Park

Agassiz Dunes SNA (MN DNR)

Badoura Jack Pine Woodland SNA

Baker Park Reserve

Belgium Prairie

Big Stone Lake State Park

Blaine Preserve SNA

Blanket Flower Prairie SNA

Blazing Star Prairie Addition Preserve, South Unit

Blue Mounds State Park

Bonanza Prairie SNA

Buffalo River State Park

Butterwort Cliffs SNA

Camden State Park

Carver Highlands WMA, South Unit

Charles A. Lindbergh State Park

Chippewa Prairie

Clinton Prairie SNA

Cottonwood River Prairie SNA

Crosby Farm Regional Park

Crow Wing State Park

Crow-Hassan Park Reserve

Des Moines River SNA

Dodge Nature Center

Edward Velishek Memorial WMA

Elm Creek Park Reserve

Felton Prairie SNA, Bicentennial Unit

Felton Prairie SNA, Shrike Unit

Foxhome Prairie

Glacial Lakes Preserve

Glacial Lakes State Park

Glendalough State Park

Glynn Prairie SNA

Greenleaf Lake SRA

Grey Cloud Dunes SNA

Hole-in-the-Mountain Prairie

Holthe Prairie SNA

Hythecker Prairie SNA

Iron Horse Prairie SNA

Jensen Memorial WMA

John Murtaugh Memorial WMA

John Peter Hoffman Spring Brook Valley WMA

Joseph A. Tauer Prairie SNA

Kasota Prairie

Kasota Prairie SNA

Keller Regional Park

Kellogg Weaver Dunes SNA, Kellogg Weaver Unit

Kettledrummer Prairie

Kilen Woods State Park

Lake Byllesby Regional Park

Lake Carlos State Park

Langhei Prairie SNA

Leif Mountain

Lost Valley Prairie SNA

McKnight Prairie

Minnesota Valley NWR, Louisville Swamp Unit

Mississippi River County Park

Monson Lake State Park

Mound Prairie SNA

Mound Spring Prairie SNA, North Unit

Myre-Big Island State Park

Neal WMA

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Hoffman Unit

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Pavia Unit

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Spieker Unit

Old Mill State Park

Ordway Prairie

Oronoco Prairie SNA

Osmundson Prairie SNA

Ottawa Bluffs Preserve

Otter Tail Prairie SNA

Pankratz Memorial Prairie, North Unit

Pembina Trail Preserve SNA, Crookston Prairie Unit

Pembina Trail Preserve SNA, Pembina Trail Unit

Pilot Knob

Pin Oak Prairie SNA

Pine Bend Bluffs SNA

Prairie Bush Clover SNA

Prairie Coteau SNA

Prairie Creek WMA, Koester Prairie Unit

Quarry Park SNA

Red Rock Prairie

Regal Meadow

Rice Lake Savanna SNA

Richard M. & Mathilde Rice Elliott SNA

Ritter Farm Park

River Terrace Prairie SNA

River Warren Outcrops SNA

Rock Ridge Prairie SNA

Rockville County Park

Roscoe Prairie SNA

St. Croix Savanna SNA

Sand Prairie Wildlife Management and Environmental Education Area

Sandpiper Prairie SNA

Santee Prairie SNA

Savage Fen SNA

Schaefer Prairie

Sedan Brook SNA

Seven Sisters Prairie

Sheepberry Fen

Shooting Star Prairie SNA

Sibley State Park

Split Rock Creek State Park

Spring Lake Regional Park

Spring Prairie Preserve

Staffanson Prairie

Strandness Prairie

Swedes Forest SNA

Tamarack Nature Center

Thorson Prairie WMA

Tiedemann WMA

Town Hall Prairie

Tribute WMA

Twin Valley Prairie Addition

Twin Valley Prairie SNA

Twin Valley WMA: North Unit

Tympanuchus Prairie

Verlyn Marth Memorial Prairie SNA

Vermillion River WMA

Wahpeton Prairie WMA

Whitetail Woods Regional Park

Whitewater State Park

Wild Indigo SNA

Wild River State Park

Wood-Rill SNA

Woodland Trails Regional Park

Yellow Bank Hills SNA

Zimmerman Prairie







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