Tufted hairgrass is a large, long-lived perennial bunchgrass that provides dense, bright green tufts of foliage to open, sunny garden areas. In early summer, it shoots up stems with iridescent, shimmering inflorescence that start out purple-ish and graduate to tan and tawny hues. These fountain-like inflorescence dance and sway up to a meter above the foliage and are quite ornamental. Like most native grasses, a patch of Tufted Hairgrass provides excellent habitat for countless species of arthropods and the late-season seed heads bring birds to the garden.
- Plant type/canopy layer: deciduous perennial grass/ground layer
- Size at maturity: 2-3' tall, 1-2' wide
- Light requirements: full sun
- Moisture requirements: moist to wet soil
- Bloom Time: n/a
- Growth rate/ease: moderate growth rate, easy to grow
- Wildlife support: caterpillar host plant, larval food source, seeds for birds, arthropod nesting habitat
- Native habitat/range: Common in wet prairies, wet meadows, along stream banks, open areas surrounding lakes and salt marshes up to 2900 meters across Oregon and across most of the country, except the southeastern US, into Canada and other circumboreal regions of the world. Portland Plant List - yes.
- Special features & uses: erosion control
Gardening with Tufted Hairgrass: Tufted Hairgrass strongly prefers open, sunny areas and is almost never found under tree or shrub canopy, with moist to wet, acidic soils - and even tolerates salty and flooded conditions. It thrives in the cool-season, mostly dying back and leaving excellent arthropod habitat in its spent tuft during the heart of summer. Plant this attractive species to give structure to your open wet meadow areas - interplanted with other moist sun loving wildflowers.
Photo Credit 1: "Deschampsia cespitosa" by Matt Lavin is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Photo Credit 2: "File:DeschampsiaCesp.jpg" by Fice is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
Photo Credits 3, 4: Nikkie West, Sparrowhawk Native Plants