River Oats

Chasmanthium latifolium

Poaceae - Grass Family

River Oats or "Inland Sea Oats" is a perennial grass which grow 2-4' tall. It is native to the eastern and southern U. S., ranging from Pennsylvania to Florida, through the midwest to Iowa, and across the southwest through Arizona.1 River Oats have oat-like flower spikelets that droop from slender, arching branches.2 Their leaves are similar to bamboo, and are typically a blue-green color until the fall when they turn to more of a yellow-gold. They turn ivory, brown , and grey through winter.2
River Oats are a “low-maintenance shade grass”.2 River Oats live in moist-to-saturated soils around small bodies of water such as swamps, rivers or ponds, and they can be used to reduce erosion along streams.2 However, the grass tends to spread aggressively once it is planted, so it may be difficult to control if planted in a small garden.3 The seeds of River Oats are consumed by a wide variety of birds and small mammals.3

References and Useful Websites:
1 Natural Resources Conservation Service - U. S. Department of Agriculture
2 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - University of Texas
3 "Nadia’s Backyard”

This page was prepared by Sally Tucker, Biology 102, Fall 2011

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