The native grasses of the Santa Rita Mountains lower elevation are wide and varied from the Tucson basin. The grasses vary not only because of the higher elevation and the fertile alluvial soils, but because of the additional rainfall.
Ask anyone that majored in college in Botany, Range Management or Forestry; identifying grasses is the toughest challenge of all plants. Some varieties make it a bit easier for novices, however, because of their unique nature. Next time you are hiking the Santa Rita Mountains, see if you can spot these:
Ricegrass is a lovely lacey grass that has seed heads that look like pieces of rice stuck to the stems. Tanglehead looks just like its name; the seed head is a tangle mass of stems and seeds. Sideoats grama, one of the most common of the grama grasses in the Santa Rita Mountains, has seeds that run up one side only of the individual stems. Purple threeawn has distinctive purplish seed heads. Santa Rita threeawn is another that is fairly easy to recognize, with its stems grouped into threes.
Reference: The Nature of Madera Canyon by Douglas W. Moore, 1999