Achnatherum speciosum

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Achnatherum speciosum
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
(unranked): Commelinids
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Genus: Achnatherum
Species: A. speciosum
Binomial name
Achnatherum speciosum
(Trin. & Rupr.) Barkworth

Stipa speciosa

Achnatherum speciosum is a species of grass known by the common name desert needlegrass. It is native to much of the south-western United States from California to Colorado, where it grows in dry areas, especially sagebrush habitat. It is also known from Mexico and parts of South America.

This is a short perennial bunchgrass reaching a maximum height of 1–2 ft. The leaf blades are less than a millimeter wide and rolled along the edges. The bases are stiff and remain as the dense grass clump dries. The inflorescence is up to about 2 inches long and is dense and fluffy. Each spikelet is very hairy and has a bent awn up to about a centimeter long which is coated in long hairs.

The stiff awn and the sharp tip of the spikelet make the seeds hazardous for animals. The hairs on the seed help in catch in animal coats and drift on the wind for dispersal. The awn also twists when wet, helping the seed bury itself in the soil.

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