Species Spotlight – Deschampsia flexuosa var. flexuosa (wavy hairgrass)
Wavy hairgrass is a popular landscape grass, judged by the 10,000 or so plants that we sell each spring, but we never quite understood why. Granted, the short, thick, deep green foliage, as well as the seed heads, are attractive but many grass species could be considered more decorative.
Seeing this species growing naturally in its native environment is truly a sight to behold. During a site survey in West Virginia, we stumbled across the largest wild stand of Deschampsia flexuosa var. flexuosa we’ve ever seen. An entire woodland meadow swaying in the breeze. Very attractive, almost as if some landscape architect had designed the spot with immaculate care. Note the light levels provided by the widely-spaced maple and birch.
2017 ArcheWild - Deschampsia flexuosa var. flexuosa meadow
Deschampsia flexuosa var. flexuosa is a northern species with its range centered in New England, but reaching down into North Carolina along the Appalachians and along the top of the Great Lakes. Disjunct populations are reported as far west and south as Arkansas. The sister species, Deschampsia flexuosa var. montana is an elusive species native to the Maritimes and Greenland, with perhaps a few locations here and there in New England.
Cool temperatures, light shade, and dryish well-drained soils seem to support Deschampsia flexuosa var. flexuosa quite nicely. But deep shade and wet winters seem to knock it out easily. Moist soils will encourage larger plant species to encroach, pushing out the Deschampsia. Inexpensive to plant en masse using ArcheWild’s flats of 98s, you can create a similar landscape effect anywhere where the site conditions are appropriate.
For a close-up of Deschampsia, see this short clip.