Cortaderia selloana

Cortaderia selloana

Cortaderia selloana, commonly known as Pampas Grass, is a tall grass native to southern South America, including the pampas after which it is named, and Patagonia. Pampas grass is a tall grass, growing in dense tussocks that can reach a height of 3 m (9.8 ft) . The leaves are evergreen, long and slender, 1–2 m (3.3 to 6.6 ft) long and 1 cm broad, and have very sharp edges (so they should be handled with care). The leaves are usually bluish-green, but can be silvery grey. The flowers are produced in a dense white panicle 20–40 cm (7.9 - 15.8 inches) long on a 2–3 m (6.6 - 9.8 ft) tall stem.

It was named by Alexander von Humboldt in 1818, after the German botanist and naturalist Friedrich Sellow, who studied the flora of South America, especially that of Brazil.

Cultivation and uses

Cortaderia selloana was introduced to Europe and North America as an ornamental grass, and, to a lesser extent, to provide food for grazing animals. The feathery flower head plumes, when dried, are widely used in flower arrangements and other ornamental displays.

There are several cultivars available, including:

  • 'Albolineata' — a small cultivar which grows to only 2 m (6.6 ft) in height. The leaves are variegated, with yellow edges.
  • 'Sunningdale Silver' — grows to a height of 4 m (9.8 ft) and has particularly dense flowering plumes. This variety has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit.

Pampas grass is highly adaptable and can grow in a wide range of environments and climates. It also seeds prolifically, with each plant able to produce over 1 million seeds during its lifetime. As such, in some areas (for example California, Hawaii or Green Spain) it is regarded as an invasive weed, whilst in New Zealand and South Africa the plant is banned from sale and propagation for the same reasons. Removal of Pampas grass by burning will not always prevent return. Chemical weed killer will kill the grass at the roots.

References

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