A low growing deciduous grass with an upright habit to 1 ft tall. The
vertical leaf blades emerge a lime-green color in spring with a hint of red at the tips. As the season progresses a cranberry-red color
progressively works down towards the leaf base . Back lit, this green and red combination is spectacular. This process repeats itself when the
plant goes dormant with a gray-brown color at the tips working down towards the leaf base. Use in mass in moist well drained soils in full sun
to light shade. It is also very attractive as a container plant specimen.
It should more properly be called Imperata cylindrica var. koenigii (Retzius) T. Durand & Schinz which would avoid confusion with other much more aggressive forms of Imperata. As Rick Darke notes in his Color Encyclopedia of Ornamental Grasses: "This red-leaved garden form has been well-known for more than a century in Japan (although not, certainly, as ‘Red Baron’, a name coined by Kurt Bluemel’s nursery), where it is usually grown in shallow containers as a companion plant to specimen bonsai. It spreads very slowly by shallow rhizomes. .... Due to this cultivar’s relation to the species’ noxious tropical phase, its sale and distribution is sometimes restricted by legislation in the United States. There is no conclusive evidence at this time, however, to determine if ‘Red Baron’ is capable of mutating or reverting to acquire the invasive characteristic of the tropical phase."
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