Improvement status: Wild
Seeds per packet: ~200
Germination tested 11/2021: 31% (this germ result would likely improve under warm/cold wet cycles to break dormancy, which our in-house germ test did not do)
Life cycle: Perennial
Indian Ricegrass is a native perennial grain with great potential for improvement. Indigenous people in North America harvested this grain from the wild and it formed a major part of their diet before the arrival of corn from Mesoamerica. After grinding, the seed meal can be cooked as a porridge or made into bread. Farmers in Montana are selling it as a gluten-free grain under the name "Montina." It is extremely drought hardy, preferring to grow in sandy desert habitats, but it can thrive in regular soil as well. It has become popular for rain gardens and other native plantings. In the wild, it serves as an important food for grazers like bison, elk, bighorn sheep, muledeer, pronghorn antelope, and jackrabbits, as well as introduced livestock species like cattle. The seeds are also a major food source for birds and rodents.
Our seed comes from EFN grower Andy Hahn, who intends to start a collaborative breeding project in order to improve this plant as a food crop. Given its perennial nature, extreme hardiness, and native status, this could be a very important crop for humanity once again. Join the breeding fun by ordering a packet of seeds today!