Sorghastrum nutans Indian grass Poaceae SONU; Bx, pb; NY, ct (planted); Q, i, j; R, c, gb, sm, sv, wp;

Sorghastrum nutans.Elaine Haug @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database.courtesy Smithsonian Institution

Sorghastrum nutans.Elaine Haug @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database.Courtesy Smithsonian Institution (Accessed 5/2014).

Sorghastrum nutans is a perennial, C4 grass (Downton 1971), tufted, persistent into winter, about 1.5 m tall, colonial from short rhizomes. 

Leaves alternate, 0.5-1 cm wide. Ligule with two elongate lobes.


Sorghastrum (Accessed 3/2017).

Flower spikelets gold-brown, to 0.8 cm, fuzzy, with long bent bristle ca. 1 cm long; blooms late spring (USDA, NRCS 2010) Seeds ripe Sept. dispersed through winter. 

Wetland status: NL. 

Frequency in NYC: Occasional in dry grassland areas with thin, native soil, subject to frequent burning, such as the serpentine barrens of Staten Island. 

Frequency in NYC: Infrequent. 

Origin: Native. 

Sorghastrum nutans.Amy and Soil Sciences

Sorghastrum nutans.Amy and Soil Sciences (Accessed 3/2017).

Habitat: Open, dry soil pH 4.8-8 (USDA, NRCS 2010). A tall-grass prairie grass with AndropogonSchizachyrium, and Panicum virgatum. At present, may or may not occur spontaneously in NYC. Reported to be common in Staten Island meadows, early 1900s (Hollick and Britton 1930). Frequently planted in grassland restorations (Gargiullo personal observation).