Indian ricegrass is a bunch grass, which means it grows as a cluster and is not a spreading grass like turf. It has narrow, rolled leaf blades and is topped with clusters of flowers and seedpods. This cool-season perennial is one of three bunch grasses in the wildflower field that serve as important larval hosts for pollinators, and in sandy soil or scrub, provides stabilization for the sand. It can survive in a variety of habitats and clay soils, although it has a preference for sandy soils. The empty seedpods catch the light and create a glowing effect in bright sun.
The plant is a North American native, with a range extending from southern California up through British Columbia and Alberta and east of the Cascades to Texas and northeastern Mexico.