Skip Navigation

Illinois Native Plant Guide - Indian Grass - Pages 146-147

Illinois Native Plant Guide

Indian Grass
Sorghastrum nutans

Preferred Water Depth and Inundation Tolerance

Prefers mesic prairie zone. Species has no inundation tolerance.

Wildlife Value

Palatable and very nutritious to grazing species. Attracts butterflies. Provides cover for small mammals and songbirds.


Dense, tangled root system binds soil well and can stabilize upland slope buffers. Slows runoff.

Availability, Establishment, and Maintenance

Propagation by seed is best. Can be planted in the fall or late April to June.

Debearding produces free-flowing seed that can usually be sown by drill or by hand broadcasting but debearding is not necessary.

This species is first to establish matrix in prairie restorations, then reduces dominance and gives way to Big Bluestem after 3 - 5 years.

Be cautious of non-local seed and hybrids.

Indian Grass
Sorghastrum nutans

Mature HeightIndian Grass
4-8 feet

Plant Type
Perennial grass

Indicator Status
Facultative Upland (+)

Wide range

Nutrient Load Tolerance

Salt Tolerance
Not available

Siltation Tolerance
Low to moderate

Flowering Color and Time
Golden brown
August to September

Light Preference
Full sun

Seeding Rate
2.5 - 6.0 lbs/acre

The following document requires Adobe Acrobat Reader
npg_p146-147.pdf [PDF]