Photo Credit
Photo courtesy of Charles Sauer, Wikimedia Commons.

Needleandthread

Scientific name
Hesperostipa comata
Plant Family
Plant Group
A cool season western prairie bunchgrass with long twisty awns extending from the seeds.
Identification Hints

Bottle gentian is a fall blooming forb native to tallgrass prairies. The deep blue, bottle shaped blooms can only be pollinated through buzz pollinations via bumble bees, hawkmoths, and hummingbirds. If you open one of the flowers, you will see that the floral parts are fused together inside.

Did You Know?

The awns attached to the seeds of Needleandthread grass are really unique. They usually appear twisted but they will untwist when the humidity rises and then twist back up when the air dries out again. If the seed and awn have blown away from the parent plant and are on the ground, the twisting and untwisting action that occurs with changes in humidity will drill the awn (and with it the seed) into the ground. In some ways, this plant can actually help bury itself! Needleandthread grass is an important grazing plant during the spring (before the awns appear) for black-tailed prairie dogs, elk, deer, and jackrabbits.

States
AZ, CA, CO, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, MI, MN, MT, ND, NE, NM, NV, NY, OK, OR, RI, SD, TX, UT, WA, WI, WY