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

 Native Plant Database

Nassella tenuissima

Mexican Feathergrass, Mexican Wiregrass, Finestem needlegrass, Ponytail grass, Texas tussock

Poaceae (Grass Family)

Nassella tenuissima (Mexican feathergrass)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy

One of a few plants to occur naturally in southwestern North America and in southern South America with no natural populations in between, Nassella tenuissima is popular in landscaping for its delicate, thread-like leaves that billow gracefully in even the slightest breeze. It is native in North America only to mountains in west Texas and adjacent New Mexico south to central Mexico, but it has become widely used throughout hospitable areas of the US and elsewhere. Given the right conditions - well-drained soil, the right amount of water, and adequate sunlight - this grass can even become invasive outside of its native range. But within its range and in well-managed landscapes, it is a welcome addition to the garden that can add a dramatic softening touch to harder-edged plants and architecture.

Image Gallery:

8 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Grass/Grass-like
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Linear
Leaf Venation: Parallel
Leaf Pubescence: Scabrous
Leaf Margin: Entire
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Inflorescence: Spikelet
Fruit Type: Caryopsis
Leaf: Light silvery green
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep
Bloom Notes: Color silvery white


Native Distribution: Mountains of west Texas and southern New Mexico south to central Mexico. A separate native population in southernmost South America in Argentina and Chile.
Native Habitat: Open woods on rocky flats and slopes in the Trans-Pecos Mountains. Well-drained soils.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Dry
Soil Description: Well-drained, acid or calcareous sands, loams, or clays.
Conditions Comments: Requires good drainage and cant take excessive moisture. Should not be watered heavily more than once a week. Goes dormant during drought and in winter. May rot under heavy mulch. Grows well in containers.


Use Ornamental: Useful as a low-growing, graceful accent grass in landscaping.
Interesting Foliage: yes
Deer Resistant: High

Last Update: 2013-02-25