Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Chasmanthium latifolium

Inland sea oats, Indian wood oats, Wild oats, River oats, Flathead oats, Upland Oats, Upland Sea Oats

Poaceae (Grass Family)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)
Marcus, Joseph A.
This is a 2-4 ft., clump-forming, perennial grass bearing large, drooping, oat-like flower spikelets from slender, arching branches. The blue-green, bamboo-like leaves often turn a bright yellow-gold, especially in sunnier sites, in fall.

Very popular as a low-maintenance shade grass, Inland sea oats is notable for its large, graceful seedheads. Sending up blue-green basal leaves in earliest spring, it can be 2 feet tall and a vivid green by May, with translucent green seedheads swaying in the breeze. By mid-summer, the seeds will have turned an attractive ivory and will turn brown in a few months before dropping off. It passes through most of winter a soft brown, but becomes tattered and gray by February, a good time to cut it back to the basal rosette. It reseeds easily and can expand aggressively within a couple of years, making a solid mat in moist loams. It has been used to prevent soil erosion along streams. The seed stalks are attractive in flower arrangements.

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Grass/Grass-like
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Venation: Parallel
Inflorescence: Spikelet
Fruit Type: Caryopsis
Size Notes: 2 to 4 feet tall
Leaf: Green
Fruit: Tan
Size Class: 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Green
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep


USA: AL , AZ , AR , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , IA , KS , KY , LA , MD , MI , MS , MO , NJ , NM , NC , OH , OK , PA , SC , TN , TX , VA , WV , WI , DC
Native Distribution: Eastern North America, from PA south to n. FL, west as far as s. IL, e. KS, and central TX and south to Nuevo Leon in northeastern Mexico
Native Habitat: Shaded slopes; low thickets; stream banks

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Moist sands, loams, and clays. Poorly drained okay.
Conditions Comments: Avoid planting in continuous full sun, as its leaves turn yellowish without adequate shade. The more water it receives, the more tolerant it will be of intense sun, but it still prefers shade.


Use Ornamental: An attractive, dense-covering grass for shade, with decorative seedheads. Also good in pots.
Use Wildlife: Seeds eaten by small mammals and granivorous birds. Leaves provide graze for mammals. Stems and leaves used as nesting material by birds.
Use Other: Cut seed stalks decorative in dried arrangements.
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Butterflies
Larval Host: Pepper & salt skipper butterfly, Bells road side skipper butterfly, Bronzed roadside skipper butterfly
Deer Resistant: High

Last Update: 2013-09-12