Plant of the Week- Needleandthread

Let’s continue on our journey of Plant ID with another cool-season, bunch grass.

This grass is a favorite among youngsters, especially if you have siblings.

Needleandthread seedheadYes, I’m talking about “Needleandthread”.  Those seeds with the long awns and sharp tip turn brown and harden as the summer progresses.

Most ranch kids remember riding through the pasture, reaching off their saddle, grabbing and grabbing until you had a nice handful of needleandthread seeds, and then loping past your brother (or sister).  If you were good (and they weren’t paying attention), you could get a perfect bulleyes of hundreds of “needles” stuck in the back of their shirt.

Of course, your siblings will retaliate and get even with you.  They might even gang up on you.  Do you take blow after blow of needles?  This is why you ride the fastest horse…to run away.

For the more mature rancher, needleandthread is an excellent source of protein and energy early in the spring.  So how do you tell if you have needleandthread without the seedhead?

It grows in a bunch.

It heads out in the spring- usually May.

It has a ligule.  This is the best way to tell.

Needleandthread liguleSee that paper-like thing sticking up?  That is called a “ligule”.  When you pull down the leaf blade, the paper rabbit ears stick out.

Ligule = Needleandthread.  (Of course other plants have ligules, but not very many.)

So go forth, and commence impaling your siblings with nature’s darts!

Categories: Plant of the Week, Ranching in the Sandhills | Leave a comment

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