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Desert Stipa
Stipa speciosa
About Desert Stipa (Stipa speciosa) Nurseries Show All Photos Achnatherum speciosum is a species of grass known by the common name desert needlegrass. It is native to much of the south-western United States from California to Colorado, where it grows in dry areas, especially sagebrush habitat. It is also known from Mexico and parts of South America. This is a short bunching perennial grass reaching a maximum height of 1-2 feet The leaf blades are less than a millimeter wide and rolled along the edges. The bases are stiff and remain as the dense grass clump dries. The flower cluster is up to about 2 inches long and is dense and fluffy. Each spikelet is very hairy and has a bent awn up to about a centimeter long which is coated in long hairs. The stiff awn and the sharp tip of the spikelet make the seeds hazardous for animals. The hairs on the seed help in catch in animal coats and drift on the wind for dispersal. The awn also twists when wet, helping the seed bury itself in the soil.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
1 - 2 ft (0.3 - 0.6 m)

Max. Width
.33 -.66 ft (0.1 - 0.2 m)

Growth Rate

The leaf blades are less than a millimeter wide and rolled along the edges

Flower Color

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Rocky slopes, washes


Elevation ?
489' - 8111'

Annual Precip. ?
3.2" - 41.8"

Summer Precip. ?
0.20" - 3.08"

Coldest Month ?
27.2° F - 57.7° F

Hottest Month ?
56.3° F - 87.8° F

Humidity ?
0.92 vpd - 41.29 vpd

Soil PH
5.1 - 8.3


Sunset Zones ?
1, 2*, 3*, 7*, 8, 9, 10*, 11, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18*, 19, 20, 21, 22*, 23*, 24*

Landscaping Information
Water Requirement ?
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: No treatment.

Common uses
Deer Resistant

Nursery Availability
Sometimes Available

Other Names
Common Names
Desert Needlegrass

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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