June grass

June grass in flower.

June grass is a native grass that can be very useful in tough sites like areas with dry conditions.  It is a cool season, clumping grass. 

"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."  

Botanical name:

Koeleria macrantha

All Common Names:

June grass, prairie June grass, crested hair grass

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Grass,
  • Perennial

Native Locale:

  • Chicago area,
  • Illinois,
  • North America

Landscape Uses:

  • Massing,
  • Foundation,
  • Mixed border,
  • Patio/sidewalk,
  • Container

Size Range:

  • Medium plant (12-24 inches)

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 3,
  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8,
  • Zone 9

Soil Preference:

  • Dry soil,
  • Sandy soil

Season of Interest:

  • Mid spring,
  • Late spring,
  • Early summer,
  • Early fall,
  • Mid fall,
  • Late fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Other

Shape or Form:

  • Upright

More Information:

Size and Form

June grass is an upright grass growing 1 to 2 feet tall.  It is a clumping grass.

Plant Care

Best growth occurs in full sun with well drained soils.  This grass is very tolerant of dry, infertile soil.

This is a cool season grass, so its most active growth occurs in spring.  In warm climates the plant will go dormant in summer and resume growth in the cooler temperatures of autumn.  In cooler climates it will continue to grow into autumn.

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 serious pests.

Native geographic location and habitat

C-Value: 7

Native to most of the United States and Canada.

Leaf description

The narrow leaves grow primarily form the base of the plant, forming an upright tuft.  The leaves are blue-green and grow up to one foot long.

Flower description

Flowering time is late spring into very early summer.  The tiny, silvery-green flowers are held in spikes well above the foliage.

Fruit description

The small fruit (caryopsis or grains) form along the spike that held the flowers.  The fruit ripens and begins to shatter in mid-summer.



Location of Koeleria macrantha (June grass) at the Arboretum

We do not seem to have this in our living collection.