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Products > Plants - Browse By Plant Category > Grass > Anemanthele lessoniana
Anemanthele lessoniana - Hair Grass

Note: This plant is not currently for sale. This is an archive page preserved for informational use.  

Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Grass
Family: Poaceae (Gramineae) (Grasses)
Origin: New Zealand (Australasia)
Flower Color: Golden
Bloomtime: Summer
Synonyms: [Stipa arundinacea, Hort. Agrostis lessoniana]
Height: 2-3 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 15-20° F
Anemanthele lessoniana (Hair Grass) - A grass tussock forming grass from New Zealand that grows to 3 feet tall with beautiful orange-brown colored foliage and gracefully arching and feathery inflorescences in its native habitat. Although this plant can grow in full sun to deep shade, its beautiful orange coloring is most apparent in the full sun however in southern California, this plant does better in shade, where in generally remains green. In the shade garden it is an attractive grass, persists and reseeds, while plantings in full sun last but a couple years. Hardy to at least 15° F. This grass is native to the both islands of New Zealand and grows from north of Auckland south to Dunedin and Invercargill, growing from sea level up forested mountain areas and naturalized along roadsides. It is related to North American grasses such as Indian Rice Grass and the Needlegrass and has been called by many names; when we first started growing it in the early 1990s it was being grown in Europe and the UK as Stipa arundinacea, a name the British Botanist George Bentham ascribed to it in 1881 although it was first described in 1786 as Agrostis procera. Noting it growing in New Zealand gardens we followed suit but now note that The Plant List, a collaboration between Kew and Missouri Botanic Garden, now has it listed as Agrostis lessoniana, but notes that this name is still unresolved. Other common names include New Zealand Wind Grass, Gossamer Grass and Pheasant’s Tail Grass. This plant won the prestigious Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit in 2004. We grew this plant in the nursery from 1994 until 1998 and thank Oratia Native Plant Nursery in New Zealand for the seed. We discontinued growing it because it failed to persist in our own garden in full sun and did not color up well in shade, so determined it was not a sustainable ornamental plant in California's mediterranean climate. As this plant comes from New Zealand and grow well in the British Isles it is likely better suited to coastal northern California, Oregon and Washington.  This description is based on our research and observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery garden and in other gardens that we have visited. We will also incorporate comments received from others and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have some additional information about this plant, in particular if this information is contrary to what we have written or if they have additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing Anemanthele lessoniana.