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Stipa (needle grasses; family Gramineae) A genus of tough, sharp, mostly perennial grasses, whose spikelets are single flowers and held in panicles with conspicuous awns. The spikelets are needle-like. The leaves are tough and narrow, sometimes with a small row of hairs forming a ligule. There are about 150 species found in temperate and tropical regions, where the grasses are common in arid plains and form the characteristic genus of the steppes throughout the world. S. pennata (feather grass) is commonly found in the Russian steppes. Several species have narcotic properties and are known as sleepy grasses (e.g. S. inebrians). S. tenacissima (esparto grass or Spanish grass), native to Spain and northern Africa, is used to make ropes, wickerwork, and paper.