Submitted by Curtis Fowler, Range Technician at Land Between The Lakes
If you have driven around the Elk and Bison Prairie in recent days, you may have noticed an abundance of grass seed heads within native grass areas. This year seems to have favored Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans) in many fields. You can identify it by its golden hue and large feather-like seed head.
It is a widespread native plant that is often a major component in tallgrass prairie habitats. It can grow up to 8 feet tall or more, but we typically see it closer to 5 feet or so. The seeds are eaten by songbirds, it provides good nesting cover and wildlife forage.
As the seed heads age this month, they will turn from golden to brown and the wide display will close to a smaller compact seed head. Some skipper butterfly larvae also enjoy living on Indiangrass plants, and certain bee species also use the plant. For more information about the benefits of Indiangrass, go to: http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=SONU2.