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ACHNATHERUM coronatum

Image of Achnatherum coronatum

Family

Poaceae

Botanical Name

ACHNATHERUM coronatum

Plant Common Name

Giant Needlegrass, Giant Ricegrass, Giant Stipa

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

Upright, graceful leaf blades of giant needlegrass create billowy tufts across the landscape. A cool-season perennial grass that often is short lived, it's native to the rocky and gravelly soils -- especially chaparral habitats -- from the Cascade Mountains of central California southward into Mexico's Baja peninsula. The root system is fibrous.

This bunching grass forms a V-shaped clump with airy, medium green leaves. Leaf blades are thin and held upright and occur in the moisture and cool temperatures of fall to spring. By late spring, tall flower stems tower above the foliage. A long, narrow cluster of very tiny florets on each stem later produces sharp-pointed seeds with long, twisting awns. Summertime heat and drought kills the foliage to beige, but the roots survive to sprout new foliage in the autumn. New plants sprout nearby from dropped seeds, and perpetuate the loose colony of grass clumps over time.

Giant needlegrass prospers in coarse soils with excellent drainage, usually in non-acidic soil types. The plant needs little water and demonstrates high drought tolerance. While fleetingly ornamental, this grass is most often used as vegetation to reclaim disturbed sites where the dominant soil or construction fill is of poor-quality grit or rubble. The flower stems work well as cut flowers in fresh bouquets or as accent filler in dried arrangements.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    8 - 11

  • Sunset Zone

    7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22

  • Plant Type

    Grass

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    1'-4' / 0.3m - 1.2m

  • Width

    3'-4' / 0.9m - 1.2m

  • Bloom Time

    Late Spring

  • Native To

    North-Central United States, Western United States, Northwestern United States, Southwestern United States, California, Canada, Mexico

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Cutflower, Dried Flower/Everlasting, Groundcover, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes