With gray-green foliage and silvery-green, spear-shaped seedheads, this compact, well-behaved grass is endangered in Ohio, and grows early in the season, thriving in full sun and well-drained sandy, rocky, or nutritionally poor soils. Most of its growth occurs in spring and early summer, and it grows 1-2 feet tall in scattered clumps. Because it’s a cool-season grass, it goes dormant in late summer in hot and humid climates. The light-green panicles of florets topping each stem turn shades of tan and brown during summer, creating a striking display when backlit and providing food for birds and other animals. Junegrass pairs well with summer-flowering plants that mask its dormancy, such as butterfly weed, ironweed, coneflower, and black-eyed Susan.
Widely distributed across North America, Junegrass is the only species in its genus that occurs in the Midwest. Sometimes used in prairie restorations and to help with erosion, Junegrass is often included in green-rooftop designs and in dry, sandy situations. It’s tolerant to juglones, drought, and air pollution.
Its primary habitat is open, rocky sites; however, it’s often found in open woods, abandoned fields, early and mid-successional prairies, disturbed roadsides, pastures, previously mined land, sandy savannas and dunes, and barren waste areas. It’s excellent for rock gardens, raised beds, and sites that are sunny and dry.
Prefers full sun but tolerates part sun.
Grows 1-2’ tall and wide.
Prefers dry-to-medium well-drained sandy, rocky, or gritty soils. Adapts to compacted soil.
Flowers appear in May or June on stalks that terminate in a spike-like panicle about 2-6" long.
Initially light to medium green, it turns light tan and brown in mid-summer.
Flat, narrow leaves appear at base and are green or gray-green.
Songbirds and small mammals eat the seeds. Grass-eating grasshoppers, leafhoppers, deer, and other foragers feast on the plant. Native bees use the grass as nesting material.
Medicinal, Edible, and Other Uses:
The plant has been used to treat cuts.
Seeds may be cooked and ground into a powder to make porridge or to use as flour in making bread.
The leaf blades have been tied together and used as paintbrushes and brooms. Bunches of the leaf blades have been tied together and used as a scourer for cleaning pans. The straw has been mixed with adobe for building walls.
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