Achnatherum hymenoides grows in dry, well-drained soils, primarily in the western part of the Flora region and northern Mexico. Specimens from further east may be introduced; it is unknown whether they have persisted. The roots of A. hymenoides are often surrounded by a rhizosheath formed by mucilaginous secretions to which soil particles attach. This rhizosheath harbors nitrogen-fixing organisms that probably contribute to the success of the species as a colonizer.
Native Americans used the seeds of Achnatherum hymenoides for food. It is also one of the most palatable native grasses for livestock. Several cultivars have been developed for use in restoration work, and it is becoming increasingly available for use as an ornamental.
Achnatherum hymenoides forms natural hybrids with other members of the Stipeae. See discussion on p. 142.