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Indiangrass Sorghastrum nutans

Other Common Name(s):

Other plants called Indiangrass:

Phonetic Spelling
sor-GAS-trum NU-tans
Description

Sorghastrum nutans, or Indiangrass, is a perennial, warm-season bunchgrass that can grow to 5 to 7 feet high. Although growth begins in the spring, it makes most of its growth between June and August and remains green until the first frost. Yellow flower panicles extend above the foliage in the late summer and fall. Indiangrass is native to the Southeastern United States, tolerates rocky and clay soil, naturalizes, and has yellow-orange fall color. It was one of the dominant grasses of the tallgrass prairie which once covered large parts of the Midwest. The plant provides excellent cover year round for birds and mammals, seeds are eaten by songbirds and the plant is highly resistant to deer grazing. 

The plant grows best in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. It tolerates a wide range of soils including heavy clays and does well in poor, dry, infertile soils. However, it does not do well in full shade. Indiangrass tends to open up and/or flop in moist, rich soils. It may naturalize by self-seeding in optimum growing conditions, but you can cut it back to the ground in late winter to early spring just before the new growth appears.It is a hardy plant able to withstand drought, erosion, dry soil, shallow-rocky soil, and air pollution.

Fire Risk: This plant has an extreme flammability rating and should not be planted within the defensible space of your home.  Select plants with a low flammability rating for the sites nearest your home. 

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:

No serious insects or plant diseases; however, note high flammability above.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#fall color#yellow#drought tolerant#orange#wildlife plant#small mammals#food source#fire#extreme flammability#NC native#deer resistant#native garden#native ornamental grass#food source winter#cover#cover year-round#food source fall#food source herbage#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#mammals#butterfly larvae#Piedmont Mountains FACU#Coastal FACU#audubon
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#fall color#yellow#drought tolerant#orange#wildlife plant#small mammals#food source#fire#extreme flammability#NC native#deer resistant#native garden#native ornamental grass#food source winter#cover#cover year-round#food source fall#food source herbage#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#mammals#butterfly larvae#Piedmont Mountains FACU#Coastal FACU#audubon
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Sorghastrum
    Species:
    nutans
    Family:
    Poaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Native to Southeastern United States and Central America
    Fire Risk Rating:
    extreme flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Provides excellent cover year-round. Seeds are eaten by songbirds and small mammals. Preferred food source for various grasshopper species.
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Can withstand drought-like conditions.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 5 ft. 0 in. - 7 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Ornamental Grasses and Sedges
    Perennial
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Erect
    Maintenance:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Caryopsis
    Fruit Description:
    Caryopsis 2 mm long. Displays from September to November.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Orange
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Good Dried
    Long Bloom Season
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Flower Size:
    > 6 inches
    Flower Description:
    Flower panicles with a triad of spikelets extend above the foliage from August to October. Stiff, vertical flowering stems, topped with narrow, feathery, light brown flower panicles (to 12" long) highlighted with yellow stamens, rise well above the foliage clump in late summer to 5-6' tall. Panicles darken to bronze/chestnut brown in fall as they mature, later fading to gray. Panicles continue to provide some interest well into winter.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Orange
    Purple/Lavender
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Orange
    Leaf Type:
    Sheath
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Forms upright clumps of slender, blue-green leaves (to 1/2" wide and 2' long). Foliage turns orange-yellow in fall and usually retains hints of color into the winter. Sheathing leaves with attenuate apex and glabrous or pubescent surface.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Native Garden
    Design Feature:
    Mass Planting
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Black Walnut
    Deer
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Erosion