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Danthonia spicata (Poverty oatgrass)
Smith, R.W.

Danthonia spicata

Danthonia spicata (L.) P. Beauv. ex Roem. & Schult.

Poverty Oatgrass, Poverty Wild Oat Grass, Curly Grass

Poaceae (Grass Family)

Synonym(s): Danthonia spicata var. longipila, Danthonia spicata var. pinetorum, Danthonia thermalis

USDA Symbol: dasp2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), AK (N), CAN (N), GL (N), SPM (N)

Poverty wild oat grass is a perennial bunchgrass with wiry clumps of naked stems and tufts of curly, basal leaves. The inflorescence is small and delicate at the top of the 4 in. to 2+ ft. stems.

Clump-forming cool-season grass often bluish-green. Does not persist in fertile soil. (Ontario Native Plants 2002)


From the Image Gallery

1 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 feet tall, often shorter.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Green
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul


USA: AK , AL , AR , CO , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , ID , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , MT , NC , ND , NH , NJ , NM , NY , OH , OK , OR , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV , WY
Canada: AB , BC , MB , NB , NL , NS , NT , ON , PE , QC , SK , YT
Native Distribution: Que. to MN, B.C. & s. AK, s. to n. FL, LA, TX & mts. to NM & OR, south to central Mexico
Native Habitat: Open areas; thin woodlands

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Dry/sterile to damp/peaty soils.
Conditions Comments: Var. pinetorum replaces the typical variety from the Rockies westward.


Attracts: Butterflies
Larval Host: Indian Skipper

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Chryxus Arctic
(Oeneis chryxus)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
Indian Skipper
(Hesperia sassacus)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


Description: Sow seed or divide.
Seed Treatment: Acid scarification has been shown to increase germination.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

North American Native Plant Society - Etobicoke, ON


Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

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

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2023-01-23
Research By: TWC Staff

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