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TREES & plants

Autumn moor grass

Autumn moor grass growing in a bed with purple coneflower.

Autumn moor grass is a cool-season, clumping grass, with foliage that is semi-evergreen to evergreen (depending on climate).  Flowers are less showy than many other grasses but the plants are durable and can tolerate light shade.

Botanical name: 
Sesleria autumnalis
All Common Names: 
Autumn moor grass
Family (English): 
Grass
Family (Botanic): 
Poaceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Grass, 
  • Ground cover, 
  • Perennial
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Landscape Uses: 
  • Container, 
  • Foundation, 
  • Massing, 
  • Mixed border, 
  • Patio/sidewalk
Size Range: 
  • Medium plant (12-24 inches)
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), 
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 4, 
  • Zone 5 (Chicago), 
  • Zone 6, 
  • Zone 7, 
  • Zone 9
Soil Preference: 
  • Alkaline soil, 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Season of Interest: 
  • Early winter, 
  • Mid winter, 
  • Late winter, 
  • Early spring, 
  • Late summer, 
  • Early fall, 
  • Mid fall, 
  • Late fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • White
Shape or Form: 
  • Mounded
More Information: 

Size and Form

Autumn moor grass is a cool-season, clumping grass that grows about 18 inches tall.  It forms tufts and can be used effectively as a ground cover.

Plant Care

Autumn moor grass will grow in full sun to moderate shade.  Moist, well-drained soil is best, but this grass is drought tolerant once it is established.  Tolerant of alkaline soils.

This is a cool season grass, so its most active growth occurs in spring and fall.  It will be semi-evergreen in winter and can act as winter interest.

Since this grass remains semi-evergreen through winter, it should not be cut back until early spring, before new growth begins.  At that time, it can be cut down to the ground if needed or simply trimmed to remove winter damage.

Disease, pests, and problems

No common serious problems.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to Eastern and Northern Italy into Albania.

Leaf description

The green to yellow green leaves are very narrow (1/4 to 1/8 inch wide) and up to 12 inches long.  Leaves are evergreen to semi-evergreen depending on climate.

Flower description

Flowering occurs in late summer and early fall.  The tiny, silvery-white flowers occur on 6 to 8 inch tall spikes that are held above the leaves.  The flowers are wind pollinated.

Fruit description

The small fruit (caryopsis or grains) form along the spike that held the flowers.

 

 

Sesleria autumnalis or Autumn moor grass