Stipa ichru

The Peruvian Feather Grass may save the world from Mexican Feather Grass, Nassella (formerly Stipa) tenuissima. Whether the world needs saving from the rampant reseeder MFG depends on your point of view and where you garden. (More on that here.) I’ve heard grass authority and famous contrarian John Greenlee proclaim that he’d rather see Los Angeles’ vast concrete spaces festooned with MFG than bare. MFG effortlessly insinuates itself into cracks in paving. The biggest concern would arise if your Southern California garden abuts open spaces where MFG can escape. In that context, Stipa ichru, aka Jarava ichru, aka Peruvian Feather Grass, is being touted as a substitute.

 photo 629c7a09-9fcb-4d50-ba44-df8872465828.jpg

This is its first summer in my garden, and already I’ve noted some differences, though. For one, PFG is taller. And because it’s not a prolific reseeder, we’ll probably be seeing it more as a specimen than en masse, as the MFG is so often used. It might be too early to judge if this is a long-lasting trait or due to its young, small size, but Peruvian Feather Grass has more of an arching, weeping form.

 photo 5914e375-50dd-485c-997d-d0fc6488c4da.jpg

My early impression is that this grass really deserves to be considered on its own merits. because it’s a beauty. I’ll be thrilled if it reseeds…lightly.

This entry was posted in Plant Portraits and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Stipa ichru

  1. Kris P says:

    It’s pretty! So how big does it get? In irrigated areas, MFG (the acronym makes it sound a bit like a curse) does require quite a bit of effort, both to keep it from spreading and to prevent it from looking like a teased 1950s bouffant, but in non-irrigated areas it doesn’t seem to present the same issues. The blankety-blank mimosa tree and Geranium incanum present bigger management challenges here.

  2. OK, this is good. I’m in the process of wanting a bazillion ornamental grasses and am a bit afraid of MFG. I will seek this out, thank you!

  3. Renee says:

    Having just spent most of Sunday pulling MFG seedlings from everywhere, I’d love a less prolific reseeder! I’ll have to see if I can find some of this. although it is nice to never have to pay for ornamental grass ever again.

  4. I feel guilty every time I say that I like MFG. It does reseed here in Davis, but not invasively so, and it’s easy to pull out. Still, I’d love it if our local area nurseries carried Stipa ichu. I’ve yet to see it ANYWHERE in the Sacramento area–and I’m eager to give it a try!

  5. ks says:

    I don’t have my Mexican FG anymore though an occasional seedling pops up–I found it way easier to deal with than the damnable Poa annua, and I miss it. It’s reseeding for me was quite modest when I was growing it.Your Stipa looks like it has the same ‘movement’ attribute that made the MFG so desirable.

  6. Kacky says:

    I personally love the MFG. Nice movement and I like the fine texture. Beautiful photos!

  7. Amy says:

    Hello Denise,

    Can you tell me where you found Stipu ichru for sale? I’ve been looking for a substitute for MFG for a couple of years now. I can’t seem to find it anywhere (even on line). In down in San Diego but would happily drive up to an LA area nursery that carries it…

    Thank you!

  8. Denise says:

    Amy, I’ve been checking for sources and I think your best bet is probably asking John Greenlee. If anyone would know, it’s him:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *