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Eragrostis spectabilis (Purple lovegrass)
Waitt, Damon E.

Eragrostis spectabilis

Eragrostis spectabilis (Pursh) Steud.

Purple Lovegrass, Purple Love Grass, Purple Plains Lovegrass, Tumblegrass, Petticoat Climber

Poaceae (Grass Family)

Synonym(s): Eragrostis spectabilis var. sparsihirsuta, Poa spectabilis


USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (I)

Purple plains lovegrass grows low to the ground in dense tufts, 8-18 in. tall. In late summer the fine-textured, stiff inflorescence appears like reddish-purple clouds hovering at ground level. Eventually this inflorescence breaks off and floats around like a tumbleweed. This is a perennial.

Purple plains lovegrass is a member of the family Poaceae. Grasses are herbs with cylindrical, jointed flowering stems (culms), hollow between the joints, leaves often mostly basal and tiny flowers aggregated into highly modified clusters.


From the Image Gallery

1 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Grass/Grass-like
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Venation: Parallel
Fruit Type: Caryopsis
Size Notes: 8-18 inches tall.
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red , Purple
Bloom Time: Aug , Sep , Oct


USA: AL , AR , AZ , CO , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: ON
Native Distribution: ME to MN, s. to FL & AZ; also Mex.
Native Habitat: Sandy or disturbed sites; plains; open woods

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Sandy soils. Well drained open fields. Grows best on moist, sandy soil in full sun.
Conditions Comments: When in bloom, the short stalks create a nice hazy purple-red coloration especially when grown in a mass. Like most grasses. This plant grows rhizomously and can spread and it will reseed if seeds allowed to ripen.


Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Deer Resistant: High


Propagation Material: Seeds
Description: Propagate by seed or division of clump.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Order seed of this species from Native American Seed and help support the Wildflower Center.

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College, The - Valhalla, NY
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE

Research Literature

Reslit 179 - Relative Rooting Depths of Native Grasses and Amenity Grasses with Potential for Use on Roadsides in New England (2010) R. N. Brown, C. Percivalle, S. Narkiewicz and S. D...
Reslit 27 - Drought tolerance responses of purple Lovegrass and 'Adagio' maiden grass (2007) E. Alvarez, S. M. Scheiber, R. C. Beeson, Jr. and ...
Reslit 28 - Salt and Drought Tolerance for Four Ornamental Grasses. (2006) E. E. Alvarez

This information was provided by the Florida WIldflower Foundation.
Search More Titles in Research Literature

Additional resources

USDA: Find Eragrostis spectabilis in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Eragrostis spectabilis in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Eragrostis spectabilis


Record Modified: 2011-04-11
Research By: NPC, TMH

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