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Achnatherum hymenoides - (Roem.&Schult.)Barkworth.

Common Name Indian Millet, Indian ricegrass
Family Poaceae or Gramineae
USDA hardiness 7-10
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Sandy prairies and rocky slopes[43]. Generally found in dry, well-drained soils, in association with a range of plants[270].
Range Western N. America - British Columbia to Manitoba, south to Texas, California and Mexico.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Frost Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Achnatherum hymenoides Indian Millet, Indian ricegrass

Achnatherum hymenoides Indian Millet, Indian ricegrass


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Achnatherum hymenoides (Roem. & Schult.) Barkworth is a synonym of Oryzopsis hymenoides (Roem. & Schult.) Ricker ex Piper

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Achnatherum hymenoides is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 8. It is in flower from May to July. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Wind.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Oryzopsis hymenoides (Roem. & Schult.) Ricker ex Piper. Eriocoma cuspidata Nutt. Eriocoma hymenoides (Roem. & Schult.) Rydb. Eriocoma membranacea (Pursh) Beal [Illegitimate]. Fendleria rhynchelytroides Steud. Milium cuspidatum (Nutt.) Spreng. Oryzopsis cuspidata (Nutt.) Benth. ex Vasey. Oryzopsis hymenoides var. hymenoides. Oryzopsis membranacea (Pursh) Vasey [Illegitimate]. Stipa hymenoides Roem. & Schult. Stipa membranacea Pursh [Illegitimate]. Urachne lanata Trin.


 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Seed
Edible Uses:

Seed - raw, cooked or ground into a meal and used in making bread etc, gruel and as a thickener in soups. The seeds are ground into a meal for bread and porridge. They can also be used for cakes. They can be mixed with cornmeal and used for dumplings. [2, 46, 85, 106, 183]. The seed is rather small but when fully ripe it falls readily from the plant and is fairly easy to harvest[183]. Another report says that the seed is rather large[183], but this has not been our experience[K]. The seeds were parched over the flames of a fire in order to remove the hairs[213]. A pleasant taste and very nutritious[85, 183], it contains about 6% sugars and 20% starch[213]. Before corn was introduced to the area, this seed was at one time a staple food for some native North American Indian tribes[213]. Carbon Farming Solutions - Staple Crop: balanced carb (The term staple crop typically refers to a food that is eaten routinely and accounts for a dominant part of people's diets in a particular region of the world) [1-1].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

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None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Soil reclamation  Soil stabilization  Straw

Several cultivars have been developed for use in restoration work on the prairies[270]. It helps stabilize shifting sand. An important food for livestock and for wild grazers such as bison, desert bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer, pronghorns, and jackrabbits.

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

New Crop  Staple Crop: Balanced carb

Succeeds in any moderately fertile moisture retentive soil in full sun[200]. This species is unlikely to tolerate temperatures lower than about -5°c, and so will only be suitable for the milder areas of the country[213]. Currently (1992) being tested for its potential as a perennial cereal for sandy soils in dry regions[183]. This plants roots are often surrounded by a rhizosheath that harbors nitrogen-fixing organisms[270]. These organisms probably contribute to the species' success as a colonizer[270]. Climate: cold to warm temperate. Humidity: arid to humid. Carbon Farming Solutions - Cultivation: new crop (Describes the non-destructive management systems that are used in cultivation) [1-1].

Carbon Farming

  • New Crop  Most new crops were important wild plants until recently, although some are the result of hybridization. They have been developed in the last few, decades. What they have in common is that they are currently cultivated by farmers. Examples include baobab, argan, and buffalo gourd.
  • Staple Crop: Balanced carb  (0-15 percent protein, 0-15 percent oil, with at least one over 5 percent). The carbohydrates are from either starch or sugar. Annuals include maize, wheat, rice, and potato. Perennials include chestnuts, carob, perennial fruits, nuts, cereals, pseudocereals, woody pods, and acorns.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Seed - sow spring in situ[200]. We have had better results from sowing the seed in a greenhouse. Only just cover the seed and it should germinate freely within 2 weeks. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in early summer[K]. Division in spring. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Perennial salt grass, Indian ricegrass and sand rice grass

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

North America, USA. Native to western North America east of the Cascades from British Columbia and Alberta south to southern California, northeastern Mexico, and Texas.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Subject : Achnatherum hymenoides  
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