Indian Ricegrass


This grass grows up to 60 cm tall with flower clusters 10–20 cm long. After blooming, it forms slender, forked branches with large seeds. It is an important grass in sandy soil as it binds the soil and is very resistant to wind action. It is palatable to livestock and can tolerate fairly heavy grazing. It is a cool-season grass with large seeds that ripen early in the summer.

Although other First Nations people gathered the seeds, especially in times of famine, to be cooked and ground into a meal (Hungry Wolf 30), there is little evidence that the Blackfoot used grains. Grinding stones have been found in the foothills of the Bearpaw and Little Rocky Mountains, Montana, but only rarely occur in the Lethbridge region. (Johnston 22)


Growth habit and range: This is a densely tufted, cool season grass which grows to a height of 30–60 cm. It is found widely on sandy soils and slopes of the prairie and parkland regions of the province. 

Description: The green blades are 2–5 mm wide and each up to 50 cm in length. The flowers occur in an extensively branched panicle 10–20 cm long, which displays one flower at the end of each branch. The seeds are oval, brown-black in colour with long white hairs, and each measures 3–5 mm in length.


  • Hungry Wolf, Adolf. 1989. Teachings of Nature. Good Medicine Books, BC.

  • Johnston, Alex. 1987. Plants and the Blackfoot. Occasional Paper No. 15., Lethbridge Historical Society, AB.