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State Grass: Indian Rice Grass

Among the several state symbols, Nevada has an official grass.  Indian Rice Grass was chosen as the state grass by the legislature in 1977.  A bunch grass, Indian Rice Grass was an important food source for Native Americans.  Grass seeds were ground into a nutritious, high protein flour that was a staple in the native diet.

Cattle and sheep also ate the grass seeds after the livestock were introduced by Euro-American settlers.  The grazing animals upset the ecological balance by eating too much of the grass seed.  The plants could not reseed and many areas were left bare.  This in turn affected soil erosion and allowed noxious weeds, such as tumbleweed, to take root.  The recognition of the Indian Rice Grass as a state symbol was an acknowledgement of the importance of this plant to Nevada.

Photo Credit:
Nevada Historical Society