Content tagged with "cool season grasses"

Photo of Canada wild rye, with green but maturing seed heads.

Canada Wild Rye

Canada wild rye (Elymus canadensis) can be identified by its seed heads, which curve downward (it’s sometimes called “nodding wild rye”). As the seeds mature, the straight, long hairlike awns will curve distinctively. This is a common native cool-season grass that reaches about 4 feet tall and is highly valued as forage and hay for livestock.

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Photo of several big bluestem seed heads against a blue sky.


All true grasses (species in the grass family).
Missouri has 276 species in the grass family, including well-known crop plants and our native prairie grasses. Distinguishing between the species can be difficult, but it’s easy to learn some basics about the group.

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Photo of poverty grass clump amid fallen autumn leaves.

Poverty Grass (Curly Oat Grass)

Poverty grass (Danthonia spicata) is one grass species you can recognize by its leaves alone. The basal leaves persist for several years, becoming dry, strawlike, and curly. Although the flowering stems can be 2 feet high, the basal leaves remain low, only getting about 5 inches long. Poverty grass is common nearly statewide in dry upland forests, prairies, glades, old fields, roadsides, and other dry, disturbed areas, usually in acidic soils. Hikers frequently see it in dry upland Ozark woods.

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Photo of river oats clump with dried seed heads and drying leaves.

River Oats

River oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) is a native cool-season grass that is common nearly statewide in bottomlands, stream valleys, and other moist places. Though it can spread prolifically, it has become popular as a shade-tolerant ornamental in gardens, and the dried seed heads are used in flower arrangements.

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