Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Achnatherum hymenoides

Indian ricegrass, Indian Millet, Sandgrass

Poaceae (Grass Family)

Achnatherum hymenoides (Indian ricegrass)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy
Indian rice grass is a 1-2 ft., perennial bunchgrass. The sage-green, wiry foliage and ivory-colored seedheads give the grass an overall light, airy appearance. Foliage turns tan when dormant.

This beautiful grass often dominates sand dunes. It is a highly palatable species for many animals including livestock.

Image Gallery:

4 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Grass/Grass-like
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Lanceolate
Leaf Venation: Parallel
Leaf Margin: Entire
Fruit Type: Caryopsis
Leaf: Green
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow , Green
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep


USA: AZ , AR , CA , CO , ID , KS , MN , MO , MT , NE , NV , NM , ND , OK , OR , SD , TX , UT , WA , WI , WY
Canada: BC
Native Distribution: E. of the Cascades from B.C. to CA, e. to Man., MN, w. KS, w. TX & n. Mex.
Native Habitat: Dry grasslands; deserts

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Deep, sandy or rocky soils.
Conditions Comments: Indian ricegrass is very drought tolerant and useful in land reclamation projects. Remove old clumps to allow self-sown seedlings room to develop. This grass can be mowed to 8 in. in early fall. Achnatherum hymenoides is a highly drought tolerant native bunchgrass. The seed has a hard coat that prolongs dormancy, taking up to two years for an area that has been seeded to become fully established.


Use Ornamental: Indian ricegrass produces graceful inflorescence, 1 to 3 ft high & is used as an ornamental bunching grass in the landscape.
Use Wildlife: Wildlife forage. Seeds are sought by birds and small mammals.
Use Food: The seeds were ground for flour, mixed with water and cooked into a mush by the Montana Indians, Navajo, Hopi, Apache, Paiute, and others.
Use Other: Palatable for most grazing animals, can sustain relatively high grazing pressure if it is allowed to produce enough seed for reproduction.Indian ricegrass decreases under grazing because grazing removes the seeds, and therefore plants are not replaced.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Larval Host: Skippers

Last Update: 2009-04-18