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Deschampsia cespitosa (tufted hairgrass)
Species Distribution Map: Click to enlarge
Map Color Key © 2013 BONAP

Deschampsia cespitosa

tufted hairgrass

Cool season grass
Semi-evergreen; excellent winter structure
Some salt tolerance
Provides erosion control
Wetland Indicator Status, Region 1: FACW

An ornamental grass that does well in moderately shady locations.  Airy masses of finely branched, light green inflorescences rise above the neatly rounded tufts of narrow, dark green foliage in early summer, and remain intact long enough to provide some early winter interest.

SIZE
Deschampsia cespitosa LP50 - 50 per flat Availability
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Height

2-4 Feet

Spread

1-2 Feet

Spacing

12 Inches

Bloom Color

Green

USDA Hardiness Zone 4-9

tufted hairgrass Interesting Notes

One of a few well-known ornamental grasses that do well in moderately shady locations, Deschampsia cespitosa is a clump forming, cool season grass. Noted for its airy masses of finely branched, light green infloresences rising above the neatly rounded tufts of narrow, dark green foliage in early summer, tufted hairgrass provides multi-season interest and remains intact long enough to provide early winter interest. A lovely, carefree plant, it can be used as filler in the garden, as a turfgrass replacement, and as erosion control near water edges.


Deschampsia cespitosa is a transcontinental plant, ranging across the northern hemisphere, and adapting to various conditions. Populations occupy moderately moist to seasonally flooded, sunny to partially shaded environments in a wide variety of soil types. Plant can be found in a variety of habitats including seasonally wet prairies, open forests, tidal marshes, and pond and stream margins. In the eastern United States, it can be found in disturbed soggy fields and roadsides. Different populations and subspecies tolerate high soil acidity and heavy metals while some have moderate tolerance to salinity. The plant prefers cooler climates and floral display may be diminished in hotter climates in the South. Plant should be cut back to the ground in late winter for spring and summer display. 


We love using Deschampsia cespitosa as a transitional plant, bridging the gap between a full sun site to a shadier site in the garden in sweeps and masses. To take best advantage of its decorative inflorescences, be sure to site tufted hairgrass where it can be backlit by the setting sun and where gentle air movement can sway its cloudlike flower panicles. Tufted hairgrass is a larval food plant to several butterflies in North America, including umber kippers, and to over 40 Lepidopteran species worldwide. Seeds and leaf blades can be forage for small birds and mammals as well.

Good Substitutions

wavy hairgrass Deschampsia flexuosa
tufted hairgrass Deschampsia cespitosa 'Goldtau'

Key Characteristics & Attributes

Full Sun
Full Sun
Part Sun
Part Sun
Moist
Moist
Summer
Summer
Deer Resistant
Deer Resistant
Salt Tolerance
Salt Tolerance

Additional Information

Soil Moisture Needs
Wet
Average
Plug Type
Landscape Plug™
Green Infrastructure
Bioretention/Rain Garden
Woodland
Meadow/Prairie
Lawn Alternative
Attributes
Native to North America
Propagation Type
Open pollinated
Grass Type
Cool Season