Rice Grass OR''

Rice Grass OR''

Rice Grass

Indian ricegrass is an important food for livestock and for wild grazers such as bison, desert bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer, pronghorns, and jackrabbits. For some of these species, it is especially vital in late winter, as it produces green shoots earlier than other grasses. The seeds are heavily consumed by many rodents and birds, notably mourning doves. This tough grass is known for its ability to reseed and establish itself on sites damaged by fire or overgrazing. Much germination occurs in years with wet Aprils. It is grown in xeriscapes—cultivars are available—and will become quite large if given sufficient space. The open, spangled appearance when in flower or fruit is very attractive, especially in backlight. The flower stalk is commonly used in dry flower arrangements.


Because of its importance to native Nevadans, A. hymenoides is honoured as the Nevada state grass. In many cultures it was the principle grain, while in others it was only eaten when other crops or wild food plants failed. When mature, the seeds fall easily from the plant. It may be gathered by beating the inflorescence with a light paddle and collecting the seeds in a shallow basket; the Indians of this area produced exquisite paddles and baskets for this purpose. Some seeds would not fall into the basket, but would fall to the ground and produce more plants. After parching the seeds to remove the hairs, the grain can be ground into meal and baked into bread, eaten as porridge, or made into other logical things to make from meal. Another species, A. speciosum is also used for food in a similar manner, though not as extensively.

This perennial grass is 2–3�' tall and more or less erect. The culms are light green to yellowish green, terete, hollow, and sparsely covered with short stiff hairs; they are unbranched or sparingly branched. Alternate leaves occur along the entire length of each culm. The leaf blades are up to 10" long and 10 mm. across; they are linear in shape, dull green, and somewhat rough-textured along their upper and lower surfaces from minute stiff hairs (see Leaf Blades). The margins of leaf blades are very rough-textured and sharp from minute stiff hairs that resemble serrated teeth. The leaf sheaths are light green, longitudinally veined, and quite rough-textured from short stiff hairs; the sheaths wrap around the culms rather tightly and they have V-shaped openings at their apices. The ligules are white-membranous. The nodes along each culm are pubescent and slightly swollen. (Source: www.illinoiswildflowers.info)



Related Articles