Prairie dropseed

Prairie dropseed, Sporobolus heterolepis, is a unique perennial grass of the Poaceae grass family native to Illinois and the midwest, and a true prairie grass. It forms beautiful fountain-shaped tufts of fine, narrow leaves, up to 3' across in mature specimens. In summer, it sends up one or more shoots from the center that can reach up to 2' tall. These culms produce large, lacy, arrowhead-shaped panicles in late summer and fall, as seen below. Wind-pollinated, these seeds are primarily how the dropseed spreads.


While, like most prairie grasses, it prefers ample sun, prairie dropseed is hardy enough to tolerate moderately shady conditions. This example shown here has survived for several years on a parkway plot, under a maple tree, that receives only an hour or two of direct sun daily.