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Sorghastrum nutans Golden Sunset® 'MNYG318153' (yellow prairie grass) Sorghastrum nutans Golden Sunset® 'MNYG318153' (yellow prairie grass)
©2021 Sorghastrum nutans Golden Sunset™ 'MNYG318153' Image courtesy of University of Minnesota

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Technical sheet - Warm-season grass

Sorghastrum nutans Golden Sunset® 'MNYG318153' PP33776

yellow prairie grass

First selected in 2005, and since 2010 propagated and trialed in several locations in Minnesota and the Midwest, Golden Sunset® was selected for its upright stature, clean olive-green foliage and numerous early yellow and golden-bronze flowers.

Golden Sunset® flowers first emerge in mid-August and remain attractive through the winter. Unlike most yellow prairie grass, Golden Sunset® remains upright and does not lodge or fall over. This new patented grass from the University of Minnesota will be a good addition to landscapes throughout the U.S. but especially in northern climates.

Plants grow to 4-6 feet tall at maturity, but are closer to 4 or 5 feet the first year or two. Large mature plants can be 36 inches wide, with hundreds of flowering stems. Most yellow prairie grass available today has blue-green foliage, Golden Sunset® differs in having olive-green foliage that is just over ½ inch wide. Flowers average 9 inches in length and are a showy yellow and golden-bronze in color. Golden Sunset™ has no known pests or diseases. - University of Minnesota

Brand new! We have had Golden Sunset® yellow prairie grass in our trials for a couple of years and couldn't believe how well it performed. Early flowering with gorgeous golden flower plumes, this Sorghastrum nutans selection from University of Minnesota produces hundreds of flowering stems to create a real show in the fall. It also has a very upright habit that does not lodge or fall over like the straight species tends to do. 


4-6 Feet


36 Inches


2-3 Feet

Bloom Color


USDA Hardiness Zone 3-9

yellow prairie grass Interesting Notes

Sorghastrum nutans is a vigorous native warm-season, clump-forming grass growing 3-8’ tall and 1-2’ wide with bluish-green foliage turning a translucent yellow-deep gold fall color and bearing beautiful panicles of copper. In the early summer, the height stays around 3’ high but the plant sends up tall panicles of flowers that turn into golden seedheads. One of the four dominant warm-season grasses found in a tallgrass prairie with Schizachyrium scopariumAndropogon gerardii, and Panicum virgatum; Sorghastrum nutans works well as an accent in landscapes, especially when substituting North American native species over exotic ornamental grasses such as Miscanthus, fountain grass, or pampas grass.

Yellow prairie grass is adaptable to a wide range of soils, but prefers rich, silty-loams in full sun. It is tolerant of drought, cold, acidity, salinity, and heavy clay soils. Ranging from Quebec and Maine to Manitoba and south to Florida and Arizona and further south still to the Chiapas in Mexico, Sorghastrum nutans can be found in prairies, open woods, fields, and dry slopes. This plant self-seeds readily and in highly-managed landscapes, a cut back after flowering reduces spread by seed. It is an essential component in most North American grasslands and performs best when intermixed with native cool season and warm-season grasses and assertive wildflowers. Yellow prairie grass is very competitive and will easily create a dense monoculture if comparably assertive species are not interplanted.

Sorghastrum nutans is a larval host plant of the specialist pollinator Pepper-and-Salt skipper butterfly and several grasshoppers and leafhopper species. When it is in active growth, yellow prairie grass makes a nutritious pasture grass rich in protein and vitamin A, making it wonderful for bison and cattle. The tall seed heads and dense clumps allow a private nesting area for many prairie-dwelling birds Ring-necked pheasant and Mourning dove. 

Sorghastrum nutans Golden Sunset® 'MNYG318153' Growing and Maintenance Tips

Cut back in late winter or early spring. It is best used as an accent, in naturalized meadow gardens, in the perennial border or utilized for erosion control and restoration.

Good Substitutions

yellow prairie grass Sorghastrum nutans

Key Characteristics & Attributes

Full Sun
Full Sun
Part Sun
Part Sun
Deer Resistant
Deer Resistant
Salt Tolerance
Salt Tolerance
Drought Tolerant
Drought Tolerant
Cut Flower
Cut Flower

Additional Information

Soil Moisture Needs
Green Infrastructure
Erosion Control
Bioretention/Rain Garden
Wetland Indicator Status
Falcutative Upland (FACU)
Plug Type
Horticultural Plug
Landscape Plug™
Native to North America
Clay Tolerance
Season of Interest (Flowering)
Late Summer
Propagation Type
Grass Type
Warm Season