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Poverty Grass

Danthonia spicata

Short grass grows well on dry, rocky, poor soils; great in dry lawns with full sun or partial shade



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Danthonia spicata, also known as Poverty Grass or Curly Oat Grass, is a native cool season perennial turft-forming short grass. It grows well on dry, rocky, poor soils and tolerates full sun or partial shade while only growing to about 6″ tall. The basal leaves remain for several years, usually becoming dry, brown, and curly. Hikers frequently see Poverty Grass growing on the thin, rocky soils of dry upland Ozark woods.


Forage notes

Livestock prefer the young green blades in early spring and summer. It is much less palatable by midsummer.


Wildlife notes

Elk find it palatable and it provides fair cover value for small mammals and small nongame birds.


Landscaping notes

Danthonia spicata has potential as a low, interesting native accent or groundcover (if planted in groups) in rock gardens where it will not be overshadowed or crowded by other plants. It does well in poor and rocky soil but will decline if shaded by taller plants.


Restoration notes

Curly Oat grass is a characteristic plant of Missouri’s dry upland woods. It requires relatively open habitats and cannot compete with taller vegetation crowding around it. With its fibrous roots, poverty grass helps to stabilize soils in its dry, rocky hilltop habitats, preventing erosion.


Videos About Native Plants

To learn more about native plants, check out our videos.

The Benefits of Grass Diversity

Soil Health and Plant Diversity

Additional information

Weight N/A

Packet, Ounce, Pound


Full Sun to Part Shade


Dry, Average



Bloom Month


Specialty Uses

Butterfly, Landscaping

Cattle Palatability


# seeds/pkt


Packet coverage area

5 sq. ft

Life Cycle


What is PLS?

Pure Live Seed (PLS) is the portion of good viable seed per pound. It is a measure of the seed that is alive and able to sprout into plants. This product is sold by PLS ounce/pound. To provide one ounce/pound of viable seed, you will receive more than one ounce/pound of product. Read more about PLS here.