Pampas Grass

Cortaderia selloana

Poaceae - Grass Family

Pampas Grass - name after the grasslands of the Argentine landscape - is a large and readily identifiable plant native to Chile, Argentina, and Brazil.1 It was initially introduced to California, Louisiana, South Carolina, Utah, and Texas, but now resides in 12 states. It grows between 3.5 and 4 meters; the flowers can grow up to 0.3 meters (1 ft), bloom in midsummer, and last into the winter.1,2
Pampas grass is a tough plant that can grow in almost any soil type, from dry to flooded soils but it thrives best in full sun with fertile, loamy soil.1 It can survive in any type of sunlight but it only grows in little shade to full sun. When planting, care must be taken not to spread seeds, because pampas grass is labeled as an invasive plant. It is so invasive, in fact, that burning will not even rid some parts of the seeds if they are planted.4 It must be controlled by means of physical and chemical force because of its tough nature.2 Animals and insects are not known to eat pampas grass, so biological controls are few. The plant is wind pollinated and wind dispersed, and each plant can contain up to 100,000 seeds per flowerhead.2
Landscaping is a popular usage of pampas grass. It is convenient for this use because it in inexpensive and, because of its invasive traits, it is fast-growing.1 Handle pampas with caution though, because its leaves have extremely sharp edges that can cut bare skin easily. It is also common for those cuts to become inflamed so it is advisable to not plant pampas along highly trafficked walkways.1

References and Useful Websites:
1Floridataís Plant Encyclopedia
2Texas Invasive Database
3Natural Resources Conservation Service - U. S. Department of Agriculture
4California Invasive Plant Council

This page was prepared by Teddie Chastain, BIO 102, Fall 2011

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