A Field Guide to the Prairie

Porcupine Grass
Photo: Joe Riederer
Porcupine Grass
Stipa spartea
Grass Family (Poaceae)
Habitat/Range: Common in dry upland prairies of the northern tallgrass region, and occasionally southward to southern Missouri and southern Illinois.

Plants grow in small tufts, with unbranched stems up to 4 feet tall. The leaves are long and slender. Typically, there are hairs on the upper surfaces of the leaves. The seeds are narrow and long (.5-1 inch) with a sharp, pointed, furry base and a very long, twisting awn.

Also called "Needle and Thread" grass because of its needle sharp fruit tip and long awn. The sharp-pointed seeds can injure livestock.

On the Prairie Field Guide Index

College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences
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