Plant Guide > Grasses > Wild Oat Grass

Wild Oat Grass

Wild Oat GrassDanthonia spicata (L.) Beauv.

In rock-strewn pastures, where the scanty soil supports low sumac and fragrant bayberry, a slender, wiry grass covers the dry knolls and blossoms in early spring soon after Sweet Vernal blooms in moister fields.

This grass, so common on poor soil from Canada to the Gulf States, is Wild Oat-grass, a species that varies not only in size but also by occasionally clothing with silky hairs its lower leaves.

The larger plants differ little from a small growth of Flattened Oat-grass (Danthonia compressa).

Wild Oat-grass. Danthonia spicata (L.) Beauv.


Stem 1-2 1/2 ft. tall, slender, erect. Lower sheaths often downy. Ligule very short. Leaves 4'-6' long, 1" wide or less, often involute.

Panicle 1'-2 1/4' long, branches few. Spikelets 5-8-flowered, 4"-5" long, green, few. Outer scales long and narrow, smooth, usually extending beyond the uppermost flower; flowering scales broad, 2-toothed, downy, hearing from between the teeth a bent and twisted, spreading awn about 4" long. Awn purple in the twist, green above. Stamens 3.

Dry and rocky soil. May to August.

Newfoundland to Dakota, south to Florida and Texas.