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

 Native Plant Database

Sorghastrum nutans

Indiangrass, Yellow indiangrass

Poaceae (Grass Family)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)
Hampton, Nan
Yellow indian grass is a tall, bunching sod-former, 3-8 ft. in height, with broad blue-green blades and a large, plume-like, soft, golden-brown seed head. This showy perennialís fall color is deep orange to purple.

This is a beautiful grass with a somewhat metallic golden sheen to its flowering parts. It is an important associate in the tallgrass prairies and is relished by livestock. It appears to be favored by occasional flooding and repeated burning and sometimes forms nearly pure stands in the lowlands. Warm-season grass with rich gold-and-purple sprays of flowers and seeds in the fall. (Ontario Native Plants 2002)

Image Gallery:

59 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Grass/Grass-like
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Venation: Parallel
Fruit Type: Caryopsis
Size Notes: 3-8 feet.
Leaf: Green
Size Class: 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Aug , Sep , Oct
Bloom Notes: The awns are red/rust color.


USA: AL , AZ , AR , CO , CT , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , IA , KS , KY , LA , ME , MD , MA , MI , MN , MS , MO , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NY , NC , ND , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , UT , VT , VA , WV , WI , WY , DC
Canada: MB , NB , ON , QC , SK
Native Distribution: Que. & ME to Man., s. to FL & AZ, then south to Chiapas in southern Mexico
Native Habitat: Prairies; open woods; fields; dry slopes. Frequent in north central Texas, Edwards Plateau, and Plains Country. Sand, loam, clay, limestone; seasonal poor drainage okay.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Drought Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Moist, rich soils. Calcareous, Sandy Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Limestone-based
Conditions Comments: Along with little bluestem, big bluestem and switchgrass, Indian grass is an important species in the tallgrass prairie. The bright yellow flowers contrast attractively with the blue-gray foliage. The grass stays low most of the year and then gets tall before blooming in early autumn. Like little bluestem, Indian grass is best planted en masse or in a wildflower meadow.


Use Ornamental: Grows in clumps, Accent
Use Wildlife: Seeds-Small mammals, Seeds-granivorous birds, Nesting material
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Butterflies
Larval Host: Pepper-and-Salt Skipper butterfly.
Deer Resistant: High

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Sorghastrum nutans is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Pepper and Salt Skipper
(Amblyscirtes hegon)

Food Source
Learn more at BAMONA

Last Update: 2016-02-04