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Sporobolus heterolepis, photo courtesy of Rob Cardillo
Sporobolus heterolepis, photo courtesy of Rob Cardillo

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Zones 1-10, 14-17
Full Sun
Regular WaterMinimal Water
Moderate, Minimal

Sporobolus heterolepis

Prairie Dropseed

Ornamental grasses and grasslike plants, Perennials


Graceful, fine-textured, clumping grasses that are as tough as they are good-looking. Deep-rooted and drought tolerant; excellent for massing in hot, dry areas and effective in meadow gardens, mixed borders, naturalized areas, rock gardens, even by swimming pools. Plume-like flower heads appear in summer and fall. After they fade, tiny seeds drop to the ground; hence the common name. These plants tolerate a wide range of soil conditions.

Sporobolus heterolepis

Native to the Midwest, HighPlains, and much of the easternU.S. Emerald green, hairlikeleaves form a billowing mass to15 in. high and 1 1/2 ft. wide.Foliage turns golden to orange infall, then fades to light bronze in winter. Slender-stemmed, airypanicles of flowers rise to 3 ft.high, soaring above the foliagein late summer. Blossoms arepink to light brown and smellfaintly of buttered popcorn. Theseeds are highly nutritious andwere ground into flour by thePlains Indians. Self-sows mildly;volunteer seedlings are seldoma problem. Plants tolerate anysoil but do best when it’s on thedry side.

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