Unknown tall grass

tracey_nj6(6)July 11, 2014

I potted up a bunch of red onions with Miracle Grow Moisture Control Potting Mix, and ended up with quite a bit of this monsterous grass in each of those pots. I wasn't really sure of which forum to post this in (Name That Plant or Weeds), so I figured I'd try here first. Can anyone identify it?

This post was edited by tracey_nj6 on Sat, Jul 12, 14 at 15:05

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I want to say it's Ravenna Grass, AKA Saccharum ravennae, but I'm not at all sure.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 10:01AM
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It looks just like the Ravenna that volunteered next door. Its now a monster right next to their house. I've been pulling seedlings all season from on my property, they grow fast.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 1:47PM
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I have 3 very mature clumps of it in my front garden. After having to pull dozens of volunteers every year, I started dead-heading them in late fall. When the canes holding the flowering heads start to brown, before the seeds are viable, I cut them off and dispose of the heads. I dry the canes over head in my carport, and use them for garden supports.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 1:38PM
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Donn, I assume you find your ravenna attractive and worth the effort of keeping it deadheaded? I have some seedlings, and I'm wondering if I want to plant it in the wild part of our property where there is plenty of space. We usually don't have a problem with invasiveness because of our harsh desert environment. If the grass isn't worth keeping, I'll pitch the seedlings now rather than have to pull it later.

Tex, it sounds like you don't like this grass?


This post was edited by jadeite on Thu, Jul 17, 14 at 0:42

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 12:29AM
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jadeite it really depends on where its planted. I like it OK planted as solitary specimens spaced out widely along the highways or if its a very big lawn planted so you can view it from long distance as a strong vertical statement. That THING next door is ugly because its planted smack up by a one story brick house and it looks overwhelming and downright monstrous. It was a volunteer that came up three years ago. I don't have space for one, but as big grasses go I'd choose a native species like Muhlenbergia lindheimerii, Muhlenbergia rigens or Giant Sacaton any day over something as coarse and tall as ravenna. As a rule I don't like the idea of imported grasses and this one, to me, looks rather tropical which isn't the look I want. There's two houses close by using it as a hedge grass and frankly, it doesn't do anything for me used like that either.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 1:25AM
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Tex, I have all 3 big grasses you mention. They're still small and only the giant sacaton is planted out. I also have sorghastrum nutans and big bluestem. I guess I was fixated on filling the bare open space.

But the pictures tracey_nj6 posted above shows a grass which is quite a lot coarser than I realized. All the online photos show dramatic big grass, similar to pampas grass which is planted everywhere in NM. Close up it isn't nearly as attractive.


    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 10:34AM
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The other thing is, like Pampas Grass it dies out in the center after a few years. I don't know if it does it as bad but its something to consider. On a big grass like that its bad enough to deal with in garden soil but in your tough caliche situation I wouldn't want to be the one to deal with having to dig it up to divide it down the road. You might ask around about this to find out if its a possibility. I see lots of Pampas and some Ravenna that look like crap--big floppy mess doughnut hole affairs because the owner either doesn't know what to do with it or just can't manage doing the deed. Its truly awful looking. I see it with Pampas more often and a couple times with clumps of Ravenna, I read last night that Ravenna does it too.

On the other hand, I have seen it growing as a solitary clump in desert situations, like planted by some big rocks in a gravel bed, in that situation it can look quite striking. It looks good here growing in the distance growing along the highway spaced out. Up close, I think its kind of coarse and gangly in many situations its just too overwhelming, at least around here it is in my eyes.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 4:34PM
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Yes...I like it very much. I have the 3 clumps growing close together, and in time it will look like one giant clump. I get a good long time with tall canes and fluffy blooms before they brown up, at which point the seeds are viable, but the blossoms have not started to fracture. That's when I cut the canes down.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 10:19AM
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Donn, your photo is stunning! Your ravenna looks better than the eye candy the grower websites post. I'm going to give my seedlings their chance to show what they can do. I think I'll try growing them in a clump like yours. That way they will look like one humongous specimen. I have some big rocks which will show them off nicely. Or perhaps I can place them close to the giant agave (5' x 5') which will make strong contrasting shapes.

Tex, there's no accounting for some tastes. I can't imagine why people here are growing pampas grass which is not hardy, and takes a lot of work to grow, take out and replant every season. I see many places growing big grasses as specimens, in shopping mall parking lots, office blocks, gas stations. I think they are growing sorghastrum nutans which isn't quite as massive as ravenna. It appeals to me, much more than pampas grass which will slash you if you get too close.


    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 1:50PM
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tepelus(6a SW MI)

I don't know what kind of grass that is in the pictures at the top, but it is definitely not Ravennae grass. I have a huge clump of it growing at my mom's house for many years and it looks nothing like that.


    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 5:04PM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

I'm pretty sure the grass pictured at first is a rank weed called Barnyard Grass, Echinochloa crussgalli. It's an annual that likes moist, rich soil. Seeds of this species are often in bird seed. I'll bet you have a bird feeder or two.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 11:06AM
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