Hesperostipa spartea

Hesperostipa spartea Poaceae

Common name: Porcupine grass, Needle-and-thread grass

About this species:

H. spartea is a tussock-forming perennial grass, native to the prairies and plains of North America.

  • Poaceae. H. spartea is in the grass family – a defining group in the prairie
  • Perennial. H. spartea forms tussocks, from which new growth resprouts each year.
  • Reproduction. Average time to flowering is unknown, though we discovered one specimen flowering in its second year.
  • Unusual seed dispersal. The fruits can continue to move along the ground after falling from the culm. This movment is caused by the fluctuation of humidity throughout the day.
  • Cool-season. Most growth occurs in the spring, with fruit ripening in late June through early July.
  • Wind pollinated. Like other grasses, H. spartea is pollinated through the wind.
  • Self compatibility. Unknown.

The USDA plant profile page for Hesperostipa spartea.

Team-members who have conducted research on this species:

This species was chosen as a species of interest in 2009, as much of the basic biology of cool-season prairie grasses is unknown.

Close-up of the flowers: the curved yellow structures are the anthers and the feathery white structures are the styles.














Another close-up of the flower