Comprehensive DescriptionRead full entry
General: Green needlegrass is a cool-season (C3) native perennial bunchgrass. It grows to a height of 18 to 36 inches. The seed head is a compacted panicle, varying from 4 to 10 inches in length. Flowering occurs in early June with seed usually maturing in late June or early July. The awns are curved, sharply bent in the middle, and about one inch long. The leaves are often rolled, thread-like, 4 to 12 inches long, smooth, with prominent veins above. Auricles are absent. The ligule is a ring of hairs, and the sheath is hairy at the margins. This species has rather deep, fibrous roots which in favorable situations may extend to a depth of 10 feet or more. Green needlegrass is very resistant to disease. It occurs only sparingly in most associations of native vegetation.
Distribution: For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.
Habitat: This grass is an important native of the Northern Great Plains, and is found as far south as Arizona. Green needlegrass grows on medium to fine-textured soils in both the True Prairie and Mixed Prairie. On medium-textured soils, green needlegrass grows with western wheatgrass, needleandthread, and blue grama. On fine-textured soils, needleandthread drops out, and on even finer soils, blue grama decreases leaving green needlegrass and western wheatgrass as dominants. Green needlegrass naturally occurs on bottomlands, flat benches and overflow area along streams.