Form: Bunch grass; tall, native large wild rye. Largest cool-season perennial bunchgrass native to the western United States. Forms large clumps with dense spikes that resemble wheat.
Height: 3 to 5 feet
Seedhead: Thick bristly 6-inch flower spikes
Seeds: Reproduces by seed and rhizomes
Stems: Dense spikes that resemble wheat
Leaves: Up to 0.8 inch wide
Roots: Extensive soil-binding, fibrous root system, pushing as deep as 6 feet and as wide as 3 feet
Ecology: Thrives in moist, alkaline soils, though it is adapted to a wide range of other soil types. High water-use efficiency. Established stands can survive long periods of summer drought. Tolerant of partial shade. Grows in both disturbed and undisturbed soils.
Fire tolerance: Coarseness of foliage resists prolonged burning. Plants sprout from surviving root crowns and rhizomes.
Uses: Seeds were collected, roasted, winnowed, and ground to flour. Dried stalks were used for floor coverings and leaves sometimes used in weaving.