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Hesperostipa spartea (Porcupinegrass)
Smith, R.W.

Hesperostipa spartea

Hesperostipa spartea (Trin.) Barkworth

Porcupinegrass, Porcupine Grass

Poaceae (Grass Family)

Synonym(s): Stipa spartea

USDA Symbol: HESP11

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

Upright to arching clumps of stout stems rise 2-3+ ft. The seeds, occuring in long, slender, nodding seedheads, have a pointed, twisted awn, 4-8" long. The entire plant cures silvery white in fall.


From the Image Gallery

2 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

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: Up to about 3-1/2 feet tall.
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May


USA: CO , IA , IL , IN , KS , MI , MN , MO , MT , ND , NE , NM , OH , OK , PA , SD , WI , WY
Native Distribution: Ont. to B.C., s. to OH, MO, NM & MT
Native Habitat: Dry prairies & open woodlands

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Dry, rocky or sandy soils.

Value to Beneficial Insects

Provides Nesting Materials/Structure for Native Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.


Description: Unlike seeds of most other grasses, porcupine grass seeds germinate best when planted deep (3/4"). Seeds have a way of sowing themselves naturally by means of a twisted awn that screws the seed into the ground. Sow seeds in spring. They prefer cool wea
Seed Collection: Collect in late Jun. to Jul.
Seed Treatment: Moist stratification may increase germination.
Commercially Avail: yes

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.

Additional resources

USDA: Find Hesperostipa spartea in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Hesperostipa spartea in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Hesperostipa spartea


Record Modified: 2023-01-25
Research By: TWC Staff

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