Prairie dropseed is a smaller prairie grass, growing only about 3 feet tall. It has a graceful arching habit and flowers late in the season.
"This species is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research."
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.
- Chicago area,
- North America
- Mixed border,
- Large plant (more than 24 inches)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
- Zone 3,
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8,
- Zone 9
- Dry soil,
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Early winter,
- Mid winter,
- Late winter,
- Late summer,
- Early fall,
- Mid fall,
- Late fall
Size and Form
Prairie dropseed is a clumping grass that grows 2 to 3 feet tall and has a arching, mounded shape.
Full sun and well-drained soils are best for this species. Tolerant of heat and drought.
This is a warm season grass, so its most active growth occurs in summer. It will remain standing in winter and can act as winter interest.
Since this grass remains attractive 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.
Disease, pests, and problems
No serious disease or insect problems.
Native geographic location and habitat
Native to much of the United States and Canada.
The thin (1/8 to 1/16 inch wide), green leaves will grow 2-3 feet long, and will arch gracefully forming a fountain-like mound. Fall color is golden, often with orange tones.
Flowering occurs in late summer (usually August and September). The tiny flowers occur on airy, branched structures. Unlike most grasses, prairie dropseed has fragrant flowers. The scent is often compared to buttered popcorn. The flowers are wind pollinated.
The small fruit (caryopsis or grains) form along the branched structures that held the flowers.
Cultivars and their differences
“This plant is a cultivar of a species that is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research. Cultivars are plants produced in cultivation by selective breeding or via vegetative propagation from wild plants identified to have desirable traits."