Elymus hystrix (Bottlebrush Grass)

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

This graceful grass naturally grows in dry woodlands and barrens mostly north of the Mason-Dixon Line.* It is the most shade-tolerant native grass, and its distinctive flowering and seed heads are a lovely ornamental feature, showing especially well when backlit.

Print Version (Legal Size): Elymus hystrix (Bottlebrush Grass)

Grass Plant in Mid-Summer and Late Summer Height: 11⁄2–21⁄2 feet Spread: 2–3 feet Bloom Color: Reddish-purple Characteristics Warm-season perennial bunch grass growing in dense tufts Flat, green leaves with parallel veins, mostly in basal clump, turn bronze in the fall Open, airy, green inflorescences rise above foliage, turning reddish-purple, then tan July to October Inflorescences detach as seeds mature Spreads by self-seeding and slowly by rhizomes Attributes Tolerates drought, black walnut, air pollution, and infertile, poor soil No serious pests or diseases Deer rarely severely damage but will eat the basal stem in winter in heavily grazed areas Inflorescences used in dried flower arrangements Birds eat seed; larval host to Zabulon skipper; livestock graze on young plants Growing and Maintenance Tips Soil Requirements: Well-drained, sandy, gravelly Light Requirements: Sun Water Requirements: Dry, Moist Cut to ground and propagate by division in spring Use in borders, in meadows, as edging to paths Hardiness: USDA Zones 5–9 Excellent Replacement for Pennisetum alopecuroides - Fountain Grass *In the Mid-Atlantic Region, it is native to DC, common in DE, reported only in Talbot County, MD, and concentrated mostly in southeastern PA. It is common in the Coastal Plain and Piedmont and frequent at lower mountain elevations in VA.

Learn more about other Mid-Atlantic plants: Tried and True Plant Fact Sheets