Native. Perennial. Propagates by seeds. Time of bloom: June to July. Seed-time: July to August. Range: Eastern part of the United States and Canada, westward to the Dakotas, southward to the Gulf of Mexico. Habitat: Dry, sterile, or rocky soil.
This miserable little grass seems best contented when making some hard, worn-out meadow look shabby and miserable. Its name of "Poverty Grass" fits it well, for its presence seems to be a sure indication of poverty of soil. The grass itself is dry and tasteless, worth nothing either as hay or as pasture.
Roots fibrous and clustered, the hard, smooth, wiry stems nearly naked, most of the short, slim, curly leaves being gathered in a tuft at their base, the few on the stems small, stiffly erect, and involute. The hard, thin little seed is covered with a hairy lemma and armed with a bristly, bent, and twisted awn, like that of the real Wild Oat but much smaller. Usually the seeds ripen and fall before the hay is cut, and after this the stems and leaves turn dry and brown and look unsightly. (Fig. 22.)
The presence of the weed is a sign of exhausted fertility, and the best remedy is to enrich and cultivate the ground before reseeding heavily with clover to be plowed under for humus. When the soil is in a condition to retain moisture and support the growth of better plants, the weed will be crowded out.