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Bottlebrush grass


Elymus hystrix



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Elymus hystrix, or Bottlebrush grass, is a clump-forming perennial native cool season grass with unique, pale-green seed heads that resemble a bottle brush, perfect for savannas and edges of woodland areas.  It is a low maintenance grass that adds visual appeal to the landscape. Bottlebrush grass prefers sun or partial shade and moisture levels that are mesic to dry. Grass diversity is good for soil health! It adapts to wide range of soil conditions including heavy clay. Bottlebrush grass is easily grown from seed and will readily self-seed in the garden when conditions are right.

Wildlife notes

The northern pearly-eye butterfly uses bottlebrush grass, river oats, and other grasses of deciduous woodlands as its caterpillar host plants. To escape predators, these woodland butterflies often skip quickly into a clump of grasses, where they seem to disappear.

A variety of other insects feed on this grass, including grasshoppers, aphids, leaf miners, stem miners, leafhoppers, moth larvae, and more.

Seed-eating rodents and birds, such as mice and sparrows, eat the seeds. Grazing animals eat the foliage and young flower heads.

Forage notes

As a food for livestock, bottlebrush grass is palatable when young and tender.

Landscaping notes

Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Adapts to wide range of soil conditions including heavy clay. Easily grown from seed and will readily self seed in the garden under optimum growing conditions.  Flower heads resemble bottle brushes and are the best ornamental feature of this grass, particularly when backlit. Plant in clumps, mass or naturalize in a lightly-shaded woodland setting, native plant garden or naturalized area.

Restoration notes

Occurs in bottomland forests and mesic (moist) to dry upland forests, less commonly margins of glades and upland prairies, ledges of dolomite bluffs, and banks of streams. Also occurs in pastures and disturbed areas. Like other low groundcover plants of woodlands, bottlebrush grass important for stabilizing soils and preventing erosion. Land managers use bottlebrush grass for restoring woodlands and savannas.

This species is commonly used in the following mixes: Companion Grass Mix – Shade

Additional information

Weight N/A

Packet, Ounce, Pound


Full Sun to Part Shade

Seeding Rate

25 bulk lbs/acre


Dry, Average



Bloom Month

Jun, Jul

Specialty Uses

Landscaping, Cut Flower

Cattle Palatability


# seeds/pkt


Packet coverage area

5 sq. ft

Life Cycle


What is PLS?

Pure Live Seed (PLS) is the portion of good viable seed per pound. It is a measure of the seed that is alive and able to sprout into plants. This product is sold by PLS ounce/pound. To provide one ounce/pound of viable seed, you will receive more than one ounce/pound of product. Read more about PLS here.