Eragrostis spectabilis (Purple Lovegrass, Tumblegrass)

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.

*In the Mid-Atlantic Region, it is native to DC and MD, rare in DE, and scattered throughout PA. It is common in the mountains and Piedmont and infrequent to rare or absent in the Coastal Plain of VA.

Print Version (Legal Size): Eragrostis spectabilis (Purple Lovegrass, Tumblegrass)Grass Plant Height: 2–4 feet Spread: 1–11⁄2 feet Bloom Color: Green Characteristics Ornamental, cool-season, clumping perennial grass with upright, narrow, open habit Alternate, strap-like, medium green leaves, 12 inches long, with parallel venation Pale green, bristly, 8-inch inflorescences mature to tan seed heads in summer and persist into fall Spreads by self-seeding to form small colonies Attributes Tolerates drought, heavy shade, erosion, black walnut, and air pollution No serious pests or diseases Deer rarely severely damage Birds eat grain-like seeds; larval host to Northern Pearly Eye butterfly and several moth species; livestock can eat foliage before production of seedheads, whose awns can injure the animals Growing and Maintenance Tips Soil Requirements: Well-drained Light Requirements: Sun, Partial Shade, Shade Water Requirements: Dry, Moist Mass in lightly-shaded woodland settings Cut old foliage and seed heads to ground in late winter before new growth appears Hardiness: USDA Zones 5– Excellent Replacement for Bambusa sp. - Bamboo MIscanthus sinensis - Chinese Silver Grass Phyllostachys sp. - Bamboo Pseudosasa sp. - Bamboo
Learn more about other Mid-Atlantic plants: Tried and True Plant Fact Sheets