Chinese Silver Grass
- Division: Magnoliophyta (flowering plants)
- Class: Liliopsida (monocotyledons)
- Order: Poales (true grasses)
- Family: Poaceae (true grasses)
- Genus: Miscanthus
- Species: sinensis
This tall, graceful grass sways elegantly in a breeze. It's native to many regions of temperate and tropical Asia—not just China. In the US, several cultivars are popular for use as focal plants or screens. It's a member of the Poaceae family—the true grasses.
Chinese silver grass grows in an enormous bunch, and it also spreads with underground stems called rhizomes. Some plants reach heights of 12 feet (3.7 meters) or more, although many cultivars are quite a bit smaller. The color of its foliage and leaves vary depending on the cultivar. Feathery purplish or coppery blooms, which grow on a long spike and look somewhat like corn tassels, fade to silver late in the season.
Chinese silver grass has become an invasive species in parts of the US, including California and many states of the Southeast. It can be found growing in large clumps, making it harder for native grasses and other plants to survive. Fortunately, some of the ornamental cultivars are sterile, so savvy gardeners can grow this lovely grass without fear of contributing to habitat loss. For other cultivars, cutting off the developing seed heads prevents seeds from developing and dispersing to where they don't belong. Still, rhizomes may spread this grass into places you don't want it.