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Nassella tenuissima.jpg
Nassella tenuissima
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Clade: Commelinids
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Subfamily: Pooideae
Supertribe: Stipodae
Tribe: Stipeae
Genus: Nassella
E. Desv.
Type species
Nassella pungens

Many, see text

Nassella, or needlegrass, is a New World genus of over 100 perennial bunchgrasses found from North America through South America. The Latin word nassa refers to "a basket with a narrow neck". It is usually considered segregate from the genus Stipa and includes many New World species formerly classified in that genus. As of 2011, The Jepson Manual includes Nassella within Stipa.

Nasella is characterized by strongly overlapping lemma margins and reduced, veinless paleas. The lemma tips are fused into the "crown", a short membrane that surrounds the base of the lemma. The rim of the crown usually has hairs.

Many species form both cross-pollinating and self-pollinating florets in the terminal panicle. The self-pollinating florets have 1–3 small anthers; the cross-pollinating florets have 3 longer anthers. Some species have self-pollinating inflorescences hidden in their basal leaf sheaths. These hidden inflorescences lack glumes and usually lack awns.


As of 2001, there were about 116 species in this genus.

California species

  • Nassella pulchra – purple needlegrass; currently reclassified as Stipa pulchra.
  • Nassella lepida – foothill needlegrass; currently reclassified as Stipa lepida.
  • Nassella cernua – nodding needlegrass; currently reclassified as Stipa cernua.

Horticultural species

  • Nassella tenuissima – Mexican feathergrass.
  • An attractive, drought-tolerant bunchgrass with fine leaves and a narrow inflorescence that sways gracefully in the wind. However, it readily escapes from cultivation and takes hold in disturbed areas, natural areas, and in sidewalk cracks, driveways, and tree wells. It is an invasive species in California and Oregon.

Other species

  • Nassella charruana (Arechav.) Barkworth
  • Nassella chilensis – Chilean tussockgrass
  • Nassella crassiflora (Roseng. & B.R.Arrill.) Barkworth
  • Nassella hyalina – spear grass
  • Nassella ibarrensis
  • Nassella laevissima
  • Nassella leucotricha – Texas wintergrass
  • Nassella manicata – Andean tussockgrass, tropical needlegrass
  • Nassella neesiana – Uruguayan tussockgrass
  • Nassella rosengurttii (Chase) Barkworth
  • Nassella trichotoma – serrated tussockgrass, Yass River tussockgrass
  • Nassella viridula – green needlegrass

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Nassella para niños

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