NATIVE GRASSES


Bluebunch Wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata)

Bluebunch wheatgrass is a perennial bunchgrass common to the northern Great Plains and the Intermountain regions of the western United States.  It is a long lived cool season native grass with an extensive root system with strong tillers.  Bluebunch wheatgrass is palatable to all classes of livestock and wildlife.  Bluebunch is very drought resistant, stands are persistent, and it is adapted to stabilization of disturbed soils.  Bluebunch wheatgrass does best on medium to coarse textured soils and can be found on heavy to medium to coarse textured soils over 10 inches deep including fairly sandy sites. Bluebunch can be found growing at elevations of 500 to 10,000 feet.

Cultivars:  Secar, Goldar, Whitmar






Slender Wheatgrass (Elymus trachycaulus)

Slender wheatgrass is an erect tufted bunchgrass ranging in height from 2 to 2-1/2 feet.  It is a relatively short lived cool season perennial species native to the mountain and intermountain areas of the western United States and the northern Great Plains.  Slender wheatgrass is palatable and nutritious for livestock.  Slender wheatgrass is recommended for inclusion in reclamation mixes because of its good seedling vigor and establishment qualities.  Slender is widely distributed and can be found growing at elevations from 4500 to 12,000 feet.  It prefers loams and sandy loams in areas receiving at least 14 inches of annual precipitation.

Cultivars:  Revenue, San Luis, Pryor







Streambank and Thickspike Wheatgrass:
(Elymus lanceolatus ssp. psammophilus and Elymus lanceolatus ssp. lanceolatus)

Streambank and Thickspike are perennial, sod forming grasses.  They are long lived, cool season natives with an extensive rhizomatous root system combined with a few deep roots.  These wheatgrasses are palatable to all livestock and wildlife.  Their drought tolerance combined with rhizomes, fibrous root systems, and good seedling vigor makes these species ideal for reclamation in areas receiving 8 to 20 inches annual precipitation.  Streambank and Thickspike do better on medium to coarse textured soils.  The natural geographic range for these wheatgrasses are from near sea level in the Great Lakes region to 10,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains.

Cultivars:  Elymus lanceolatus ssp. Lanceolatus type: Bannock, Critana, Schwendimar
Elymus lanceolatus ssp. Psammophilus type: Sodar







Indian Ricegrass:  (Achnatherum hymenoides)

Indian ricegrass is 8 to 30 inches tall.  It is highly palatable to livestock and wildlife.  It reaches its peak production from mid June through mid July.  It holds its nutrient value well at maturity.  One of Indian ricegrass’ greatest values is for stabilizing sites susceptible to wind erosion.  It is well adapted to sandy soils.  Indian ricegrass is very winter hardy and can be found at elevations from 2,000 to 10,000 feet.  It grows best in sandy course textured soils receiving 8 to above 14 inches on annual precipitation.

Cultivars:  Rimrock, Paloma, Nezpar









Big Bluestem:  (Andropogon gerardii)

Big Bluestem is a native perennial warm season grass that occurs from the short grass prairie region to the Atlantic Ocean.  It is tufted, forms sod, and has short scaly rhizomes.  Big bluestem is tall, reaching a height of 6 to 8 feet on most sites where it is protected form grazing.  Big bluestem is planted to stabilize soil.  Rhizomes are typically 1 to 2 inches below the soil surface, while the main roots can extend downward to 10 feet.  It is also often used in wildflower meadows and prairie plantings.  Big bluestem is also effective as a rear border or accent in native plant gardens.  Big bluestem is best adapted to moist, sandy or clay loams but also occurs in dry shallow soils.  It is not tolerant of heavy clays, extremely wet bottomlands, deep sands, high salinity, or high lime.

Cultivars:  Bison, Eldorado, Earl, Kaw, Niagra, and Rountree







Little Bluestem:  (Schizachyrium scoparium)

Little bluestem is a medium height grass with coarse stems and basal leaves.  As a warm season grass it begins growth in late spring and continues through the hot summer until the first killing frost.  Little bluestem is one of the most widely distributed native grasses in North America.  It will grow on a wide variety of soils but is very well adapted to well drained, medium to dry, infertile soils.  The plant has excellent drought tolerance, fair shade tolerance, and poor flood tolerance.  Because of its growth habit and adaptability to a wide range of soil conditions, little bluestem is useful as a component of revegetation mixes.

Cultivars:  Itasca Germplasm, Camper, Aldous, Cimmaron, Patura, and Blaze









Sideoats Grama:  (Bouteloua curtipendula)

Sideoats grama is a medium size perennial bunchgrass, 15 to 30 inches tall.  It has a bluish-green color, sometimes with a purplish cast, and cures to a reddish-brown or straw color.  Sideoats grama is adapted to a broad range of sandy to clayey textured soils.  The best stands of sideoats are found on medium to fine texture upland soils.

Cultivars:  Butte, El Reno, Haskell, Killdeer, Niner, Pierre, Premier, Trailway, and Vaughn










Blue Grama: (Bouteloua gracilis)

Blue grama is a major warm season grass found throughout the Great Plains.  Blue grama is 6 to 24 inches tall and normally appears as a bunchgrass, but in the northern states and in the mountains, or in areas under heavy grazing pressure it is a sod former.  Blue grama is highly palatable for livestock on a year long basis.  It is commonly used as a low maintenance turf planting, such as rough areas of a golf course.  Blue grama demonstrates good drought, fair salinity and moderate alkalinity tolerance.  It grows well on soil types as varied as sandy to clayey in texture.  Blue grama grows at elevations of 3,500 feet up to 7,000 feet and has been reported growing at 10,000 feet.

Cultivars:  Bad River Ecotype, Lovington, Hachita, Alma








Canada Wildrye: (Elymus Canadensis)

Canada wildrye is a native perennial bunchgrass that grows to 4 feet with erect arching culms and flat wide, waxy green and pointed leaves that grow from the base of the stem to the spike.  Canada wildrye is a short lived, cool season grass found on sandy shores, dunes, and wooded areas, especially along trails, rivers, and streams.  It is moderately drought tolerant and winter hardy.  It has good tolerance to salinity and tolerates shade very well.  Exceptional seedling vigor and rapid establishment make Canada wildrye an excellent species for use in erosion control.

Cultivars: Mandan







Basin Wildrye: (Leymus cinereus)

Basin wildrye is a large, coarse, robust, perennial bunchgrass.  It is a long lived cool season native with and extensive deep coarse fibrous root system.  Basin wildrye clumps may reach 3 feet in diameter and 3 to 6 feet tall (10 feet under excellent soil and climate conditions).  The best seeding results are obtained from seeding in very early spring on heavy to medium textured soils and in late fall on medium to light textured soils.  Basin wildrye’s drought tolerance, combined with fibrous root system and fair seedling vigor, make it desirable for reclamation in areas receiving 8 to 20 inches annual precipitation.  It is commonly used as a grass barrier for wind erosion or blowing snow control.

Cultivars:  Magnar and Trailhead








Idaho Fescue: (Festuca idahoensis)

Idaho Fescue is a native, perennial, cool season grass.  Idaho fescue will grow in elevations from 900 to 13,000 feet.  It prefers silt loam or sandy loam soils and is occasionally found on loamy sand soils.  Idaho fescue is fairly drought resistant, stands are persistent and it is adapted to stabilization of disturbed soils.  Its drought tolerance, combined with extensive root systems and good seedling vigor, makes this species ideal for reclamation is areas receiving 14 to 20 inches annual precipitation.

Cultivars:  Nezpurs and Joseph








Maximilian Sunflower:  (Helianthus maximiliani)

Maximilian sunflower is a native perennial that has a stout, rhizomatous root system.  It grows from 35 to 90 inches tall with stems occurring singly or in clusters.  Although it can grow in a variety of conditions, it prefers moist clay-like soils, soil depths of 20 inches or more, 10 to 40 plus inches annual precipitation, gentle slopes and full sun.  Maximilian sunflowers’ bright yellow flowers make it a popular choice for use in native gardens.

Cultivars:  Aztec and Prairie Gold









Needle and Thread:  (Heterostipa comata)

Needle and thread is a native, cool season, perennial bunch grass.  It ranges in height from 1 to 4 feet.  It grows early in the spring and in the late fall if moisture is available.  Needle and thread is reproduced from seed and is primarily adapted to sandy or gravely loam soils.  It is grazed readily by all livestock, especially in early spring and late fall.  It cures well on the stem and provides good forage in fall and winter.












Prairie Junegrass:  (Koeleria macrantha)

Prairie junegrass is a native, perennial, cool season tufted bunchgrass found on rangelands, plains and open forestlands.  It is commonly 0.5 to 2 feet tall.  Prairie junegrass is cold, heat and drought tolerant and grows on rangeland meadows, plains, mountain foothills and open forestlands.  It does best at 12 to 20 inches annual precipitation and is most commonly found at elevations from 4,000 to 8,000 feet, but occurs up to 11,500 feet in the central Rocky Mountains.  Prairie junegrass is best adapted to well-drained soils such as silts to loams to sandy loams.  Prairie junegrass greens up early in the spring and provides good early spring forage for livestock.

Cultivars: Barkoel









Green Needlegrass:  (Nassella viridula)

Green needlegrass is cool season native perennial bunchgrass.  It grows to a height of 18 to 36 inches.  Green needlegrass grows on medium to fine textured soils and is recommended for seeding mixes in the 12 to 18 inch precipitation zone.  It is well suited for use in mixtures for range seeding, critical area establishment, and other plantings where the establishment of native vegetation is the objective. 

Cultivars:  Lodorm, AC Mallard, Cucharas Germplasm.






Alkalai Bulrush:  (Schoenoplectus maritimus)

Alkali bulrush is a native perennial, heavily rhizomatous, obligate, wetland plant that may reach 60 inches in height.  Alkalai bulrush is found at low to mid elevations in marshes, transient wet spots, pond margins and backwater areas.  It can handle a pH of up to 9.0.  It will grow on soils from fine clay to silt loam to sand.  The rhizomes form a matrix for many beneficial bacteria making this plant an excellent choice for wastewater treatment constructed wetlands.  Waterfowl will utilize the seed and use the stems for nesting cover.  Muskrats and beaver will eat the rootstocks and young shoots.

Selected Materials:  Bear Lake Selection, Fort Boise Selection, Stillwater Selection and Bear River Selection





Western Wheatgrass:  (Pascopyrum smithii)

Western wheatgrass is a long lived, cool season species that has coarse blue-green leaves.  It is a sod former with strong spreading rhizomes.  Western is an excellent erosion control plant because of its spreading rhizomes.  It is widely used in seed mixtures for range seeding, revegetation of saline and alkaline areas, and in critical areas for erosion control in the central and northern Great Plains region.  Forage quality is high for pasture and range seedings.  Although western is able to grow on a wide variety of soils it prefers the heavier but well drained.  You can find western growing at 1,000 to 9,000 feet in elevation.

Cultivars:  Arriba, Flintlock, Barton, Rosana, Rodan and Walsh





* Information provided courtesy of Montana State University Agricultural Experiment Station.
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Big Bluestem
Blue Grama
Bluebunch Wheatgrass
Prairie Junegrass
Western Wheatgrass
Slender Wheatgrass
Streambank and Tickspike Wheatgrass
Indian Ricegrass
Little Bluestem
Sideoats Grama
Canada Wildrye
Basin Wildrye
Idaho Fescue
Maximilian Sunflower
Needle and Thread
Green Needlegrass
Alkalai Bulrush
1 Mile North - Highway 232
PO Box 1028
Havre, Montana 59501



406.265.5443
1.800.228.1928