June Grass (Prairie)
Koeleria macrantha (Ledeb.) Schul
Collected near Kamiah in Idaho Co., Idaho, on 27 May 1806. (Source)
Prairie June grass is a loosely-tufted,
shallow-rooted, native grass of small stature. This cool-season perennial
bunchgrass has long, mostly basal leaves. The panicle is narrow and spikelike,
except during spring flowering, when open. Quantitative botanical
characteristics are extremely variable depending upon sample location. The
spikelike panicle can range from 1 to 7 inches in length and is usually
two flowered and compressed. During flowering the spikelike branches are open.
The long, narrow, flat leaves range from 1.5 to 5 inches long
from their basal point of attachment. Prairie June grass's leaves are drought
resistant and persist under dry conditions.
A small percentage of prairie June grass cover is found within the majority of upland and high-prairie systems in scattered stands. Prairie June grass is normally found at elevations between 5,000 to 8,000 feet. Preferred sites are cool, semi-arid, infertile grasslands and rock outcrops.
Prairie June grass has a wide distribution. In southern Idaho initiation of growth occurs at the beginning of April, 10 to 15 days after disappearance of snow. Flower stalks formed at the beginning of May with a fully developed inflorescence occurring by June 1st. Flowers bloomed mid- June with seed ripening occurring mid-July. Seed dissemination starts mid-July and ends in mid-August. (Source)
Uses for Animals:
Several wildlife species utilize prairie June grass. Studies document prairie Junegrass utilization by bighorn sheep, mountain goats, elk, white-tailed deer and mule deer. Due to scattered distribution, prairie June grass does not maintain a significant role in the diet of most wildlife species. A review of mule deer foraging habits found fluctuations of use from little to moderate, directly related to percent availability of other preferred forage species. Prairie June grass's ability to inhabit rocky soils and high elevations makes it a good food source for bighorn sheep. Mountain goats feeding in similar habitats also utilize prairie June grass. It is ranked at low importance for coast deer, white-tailed deer, Roosevelt elk, Rocky Mountain elk, moose and caribou and at moderate importance for mule deer, mountain goat and bighorn sheep. (Source)
Succeeds in most soils in a sunny position. Prefers a chalky soil. Grows best in a soil that is not too fertile. If grown from seed, sow spring in situ and only just cover the seed, will germinate within three weeks.
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