Culms 40-100 cm; lower nodes glabrous. Lower sheaths glabrous or puberulent, not ciliate; ligules of lower leaves 0.5-1 mm, thickly membranous, rounded; ligules of upper leaves to 3 mm, scarious, acute; blades 0.5-1 mm wide. Panicles 10-30 cm. Glumes subequal, 30-60 mm; florets 15-18 mm; calluses 4-5 mm; lemmas evenly pubescent, hairs shorter than 1 mm; awns 120-220 mm, first 2 segments hairy, hairs mostly 0.2-1 mm, terminal segment flexible, pilose, hairs 1-3 mm. 2n = 44.
Hesperostipa neomexicana grows in grassland, oak, and pinyon pine associations, from 800-2400 m, usually in well-drained, rocky areas in the southwestern United States and adjacent Mexico. It is similar to H. comata subsp. comata, differing in its longer awn hairs and shorter ligules.
Gould 1951, FNA 2007
Common Name: New Mexico feathergrass Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Graminoid General: Tufted perennial grass, without rhizomes; culms erect, 40-100 cm tall. Vegetative: Sheaths rounded, glabrous or puberulent; collar glabrous or occasionally with few long hairs on margin; ligules of lower leaves less than 1 mm, thickly membranous, rounded; ligules of upper leaves to 3 mm, scarious, acute; blades tightly involute on dryin Inflorescence: Panicle contracted, mostly 10-30 cm or less, often partially included in upper sheath; spikelets large, erect-appressed, with long, undulant-spreading awns, 12-20 cm; glumes subequal, 3-6 cm; florets 15-18 mm; calluses 4-5 mm; lemmas evidently pubescent, the hairs shorter than 1 mm; first two segments of awn covered in hairs <1 mm, terminal segment flexible and pilose with 1-3 mm hairs. Ecology: Found on dry, sandy, or rocky slopes and plains in grassland, oak, and pi-on associations; 3,500-6,500 ft (1067-1981 m); flowers April- June. Distribution: sw NV, AZ, NM, s CO, s WY, w TX; south to n MEX. Notes: Hesperostipa is a genus of perennial bunchgrasses distinguished by having tightly rolled leaves and single-seeded spikelets with sharp points and very long awns, 5-25 cm long, which usually become twisted at maturity and, upon falling, leave large straw-colored glumes behind. H. neomexicana is similar to H. comata ssp. comata, but differs in its long awn hairs (1-3 mm in H. neomexicana and <1 mm in H. comata) and shorter ligules (to 3 mm in H. neomexicana and to 7 mm in H. comata). Ethnobotany: Closely related species were used as staple grains by Native Americans in the southwest. This species likely has the same uses. Etymology: Hesperostipa means western Stipa, as the genus Stipa is solely in the old world according to recent treatments; Stipa is from the Greek word for rope or fiber; neomexicana refers to New Mexico. Synonyms: Stipa neomexicana Editor: SBuckley 2010, FSCoburn 2014, AHazelton 2015