Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis)

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Grass/Grass-like
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Water Preferences: Wet Mesic
Mesic
Dry Mesic
Dry
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 3 -40 °C (-40 °F) to -37.2 °C (-35)
Maximum recommended zone: Zone 8b
Plant Height: 1-3 feet
Leaves: Other: Slender leaves in a fountain-like tussock. Warm-season grass: grows in summer.
Fruit: Showy
Edible to birds
Other: Round seeds less than 2 mm across
Fruiting Time: Fall
Flower Color: Green
Other: Varies between green, yellow, light tan, and gray depending on stage of development
Bloom Size: Under 1"
Flower Time: Summer
Inflorescence Height: 18-36 inches
Foliage Mound Height: 12-24 inches
Underground structures: Rhizome
Uses: Provides winter interest
Will Naturalize
Wildlife Attractant: Birds
Resistances: Fire Resistant
Drought tolerant
Propagation: Seeds: Stratify seeds: May germinate better with cold moist treatment for 1-2 months.
Sow in situ
Other info: Needs no stratification. May germinate better in partial shade.
Propagation: Other methods: Division
Pollinators: Wind
Miscellaneous: Tolerates poor soil

Image

Photo gallery:
Location: Potomac MDDate: 2018-07-07
By sulurph
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Location: ILDate: 2015-05-25Be warned, cats love to bunny kick and mess with this grass. This
By molanic
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Location: ILDate: 2010-10-29
By molanic
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Location: the Lurie Garden in Chicago, IllinoisDate: 2013-08-13nice mass in a raised bed
By ILPARW
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Image Courtesy of Bloomin Designs Nursery Used with Permission
By vic
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Location: West Valley City, UTDate: 2013-07-16Very airy and pretty waving in the wind.
By Zencat
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Location: West Valley City, UTDate: 2013-07-16
By Zencat
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Photo Courtesy of Prairie Nursery. Used with Permission
By Joy
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Photo Courtesy of Prairie Nursery. Used with Permission
By Joy
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Photo Courtesy of Prairie Nursery. Used with Permission
By Joy
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Location: Indiana Dunes State Park headquartersDate: 2016-07-16nice mass
By ILPARW
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Location: Volo Bog headquarters in Ingleside, IllinoisDate: 2014-08-14several plants in a group with other plants
By ILPARW
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Location: Downingtown, PennsylvaniaDate: 2013-08-02one plant along garage side
By ILPARW
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Location: Downingtown, PennsylvaniaDate: 2013-08-02flower-seedheads close-up
By ILPARW
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This plant is tagged in:
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Comments:
Posted by ILPARW (southeast Pennsylvania - Zone 6b) on Feb 10, 2018 3:19 PM

I ordered one plant in a small pot by mail in 2006 from Prairie Nursery in Westfield, Wisconsin, an excellent source for perennial native plants and a few woody ones. I planted it in my once totally sunny "prairie garden" in the backyard. After several years, the Gray Birches and Serviceberry trees gave forth too much shade for them and other taller plants were competing with it, so I moved it in 2012 to a bed along the west side of my garage where it loves the spot. It has very, thin fine textured blades of emerald-green color. It is very soft to touch and sort of fountain-like in habit. It bears tiny, wispy grass flowers and seedheads. Prairie Nursery mentions that Plains Indians ground the seeds to make a tasty flour. It is not only native to the Midwest, but is also native to the serpentine barrens in the special dry soil with chromium and nickel present in southeast PA and northern MD, and it is found in some other special areas in the East. It is sold by most all native plant nurseries. Only a few larger, diverse conventional nurseries sell it. Many of my fellow horticulturists don't know of these native meadow & prairie grasses, except for Switchgrass.

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Posted by Cyclaminist (Minneapolis, Minnesota - Zone 5a) on May 16, 2016 1:57 AM

From what I read online, this is a grass that mainly occurs in high-quality prairie remnants. Hard to germinate, so not planted very often in restorations. The small round seeds are eaten by sparrows (not sure if they eat the seeds directly from the flower stems or once they fall to the ground). The dense clump of long slender leaves is distinctive among native grasses.

I'm growing this from seed. Not sure where it'll go in the garden, but it is lovely and it will be a nice addition. Hopefully I'll see some handsome little juncos scratching for the seeds in the winter.

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Discussion Threads about this plant
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Flowers by Cyclaminist May 25, 2016 12:26 PM 2
Have to Trade... by wcgypsy Dec 8, 2015 9:55 PM 2

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