Mexican Feathergrass, Nassella tenuissima: Small-medium perennial grass with airy foliage
Description: Mexican Feathergrass (Nassella tenuissima) is native to west Texas, New Mexico and Mexico. It is small-medium sized fountain-like bunchgrass, growing 1-2 feet tall, with flower spikes adding up to an additional foot in height. It has finely textured light green leaves that are tightly furled inward giving them a graceful, filamentous look.
Flowers and Seeds: Mexican Feathergrass flowers in late spring with 6-12 inch silvery-white to very light green spikelet flower clusters or panicles that stand above the leaves. The flowers have slender awns that are 2-3 inches long. The panicles ripen to golden brown in the summer and into fall.
Planting sites: Mexican Feathergrass thrives in full sun and can tolerate partial shade. It does well in most soil types, but it must have good drainage.
Watering Instructions: Like many Texas natives, Mexican Feathergrass may need supplemental water during its first growing season. After it is established, it will thrive with existing rainfall. It is drought tolerant, although it can go dormant during an extended drought. It cannot tolerate excessive moisture.
Comments: Mexican Feathergrass is used in landscapes because of its airy delicate foliage that sways gently in the breeze. Its soft leaves provide contrast to more rigid leaves of other plants and garden hardscape. Because of its small size, Mexican Feathergrass can be grown in containers. It can be propagated by seed, collected in summer by combing through the plant. After three seasons of growth, Mexican Feathergrass' leaves persist throughout the winter. Even though it is mostly dormant, cutting it can slow the plant down from its new growth in the spring, so don't cut it back until new spring growth appears. Mexican Feathergrass' leaves may be used by birds for nesting material. It is deer resistant.
Written by Dr. Becca Dickstein