Native to Asia
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Calmagrostis brachytricha is a clump forming cool season perennial grass. Plants form a rounded mound of narrow arching leaves. In late summer pinkish flower plumes rise above the foliage. The feathery flowers and slender leaves drift in the slightest breeze. As winter approaches, fluffy seed plumes turn creamy and then amber. Foliage maintains a golden bronze color through the fall and winter. Plants tolerate a wide range of growing conditions from moist sun to dry shade.
HABITAT & HARDINESS: Calmagrostis brachytricha hails from central and eastern Asia. In its native habitat, this grass is found most often in moist open woods and at woodland’s edge.
Plants are hardy from USDA Zones 4-9.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: In spring Calmagrostis brachytricha emerges from a winter sleep to form a dense mounding tuft of arching linear leaves.
Plants spread slowly from underground rhizomes eventually developing into beefy clumps of attractive glossy green leaves.
In summer airy flower panicles are displayed above the foliage on upright stems. The young spikelets have a rosy tinge. Later in the season the inflorescence becomes feathery and color fades to a silvery white. As fall rolls around, foliage transforms to a golden yellow with an amber colored fluffy mass of seed.
Flowering plants attain a 4’ height with 2’ spread.
CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: The greatest cultural achievement of Calmagrostis brachytricha is the ability to grow in shade. This is highly unusual for a grass.
Plants also prosper in full sun but only if sufficient moisture is present. They tolerate clay soils and extreme summer heat and may self-sow occasionally.
This grass needs little maintenance except to be cut or burned to the ground in late winter.
It is important to water Calamagrostis brachytricha well at initial planting and during the first growing season. After plants are established they usually do well with little supplemental irrigation. This grass may not flower the first year or until well established.
LANDSCAPE USES: Valuable as an Accent, Cut Flower and in Groupings or Masses. Plants provide Erosion Control, Fall Color, Showy Blooms and Winter Interest. Calamagrostis brachytricha is appropriate for Deer Resistant Plantings, Meadows, Rain Gardens, Low Maintenance Plantings, Perennial Borders and Shade Gardens.
COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: Try pairing with Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’, Aster laevis ‘Bluebird’, Penstemon digitalis 'Huskers Red', Solidago caesia and Chasmanthium latifolium.
Pennisetum alopecuroides is similar in appearance and cultural needs and can be substituted if needed.
TRIVIA: Calamagrostis brachytricha received the Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit in 2006.
The generic name Calamagrostis is from the Greek Kalamos meaning ‘reed’ and agros meaning ‘field’. Brachytricha is from the Latin brachy meaning ‘short’ and tricha meaning ‘having hair’.
When compared to the widely planted Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Forester’, Calamagrostis brachytricha is later flowering, has a pinkish open feathery inflorescence and is a warm season grass. ‘Karl Forester’ has earlier more slender inflorescences with golden color and is a cool season grass.
Calamagrostis brachytricha is also known as Stipa brachytricha, Achnatherum brachytricha and Calamagrostis arundinacea var. brachytricha.
Black Walnut Tolerant
Warm Season Grass
Yellow Fall Color