Andropogon gerardi - Cowles Prairie 25 acres.jpg

Family:     Poaceae (Grass family)

Duration:  Perennial

Height:     90 - 240 cm (3-8 ft)

Blooming: Aug.-Sept.


Indian grass

Sorghastrum nutans (L.) Nash

Stem: The hairless stem is hollow and hairless.

Flowers: feathery flowers are produced in golden, purplish red plumes which dance by the direction of the wind up to 8 feet off the ground.   

Leaves: halfway up the stem, the alternate pale to dark green leaves work. They are usually hairless and sometimes arching. In the autumn, the leaves turn an orangish, yellow accenting the fall colors of the trees.

Sun:  Full sun

INPAWS Natural Communities: Prairie grassland (sun); Water's edge (sun); Winter Interest

Andropogon gerardi - Cowles Prairie 25 acres.jpg
Big Bluestem Mnoke Prairie Indiana Dunes

Comments: As a warm season grass, it spends its summer growing then flowering in late summer, early fall.​  It is an important species for foraging in the tall grass prairies of North America once being one of the most dominate grasses in the tall grass prairies.  

Etymology: The epithet, nutans, is Latin for nodding referring to the plumes. The genus Sorghastrum comes from the Latin words, suricum granum, which means "Syrian grains" and astrum meaning "a pitiful imitation".


all photos by Nathanael Pilla

Landscape: Indian grass is a great native replacement for exotic landscape grasses. This brilliant grass adds bronze, brown, purple, red, and blue color hints into your landscape.  Prevents soil erosion as well.

Species Present and Native