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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Letterman's Needlegrass - Stipa lettermanii
Other Names:  Achnatherum lettermanii

Species of Concern
Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S1S3
(see State Rank Reason below)

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:

External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Documented from several locations in the southern portion of the state. However, population levels, site characteristics and related information needed to determine the species' status are lacking.
General Description
Perennial bunchgrass. Stems 30–60 cm. Leaves: blade 0.5–2 mm wide, essentially hairless at throat region; ligule 3–4 mm long. Inflorescence a contracted panicle 10–15 cm long. Spikelets 7–9 mm long. Lemmas with dense appressed hairs, awn 1–2 cm long (Lavin in Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Fruiting in late June-July.

Diagnostic Characteristics
Species of Stipa are recognized by having spikelets with one floret, hardened lemmas, and distinctive strongly twisted, bent awns. Stipa lettermanii is distinguished from other Montana Stipa by having short, glabrous awns and paleas which are hairy and about 2/3 the length of the lemmas.

Species Range

Range Comments
Western North America from MT, ID, and OR south through CA, NM and Mexico (Kartesz in prep. 2012).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 22

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Limestone talus and dry fescue grassland in the valley and foothill zones.

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Citation for data on this website:
Letterman's Needlegrass — Stipa lettermanii.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from