Elymus hystrix Namestnik

Family:     Poaceae (Grass family)

Duration:  Perennial

Height:     150 cm (up to 5 ft)

Blooming: June-Aug.


Bottlebrush grass

Elymus hystrix  L.

Flower: in the summer, the stem terminates in a whitish-green 20 cm (8 in) spike-like inflorescence with interrupted florets oriented nearly perpendicular to the inflorescence axis. 

Leaves: are a gray-green color sometimes hairy on one side. They can grow as long as 2.5 cm (1 in) long and 1.25 cm (.5 in) wide. The leaves have purplish auricles at the base of the blade. The sheaths have a whitish waxy coating forming mostly at the base of the plant. 

Sun: part sun to shade

Ideal conditions: moist or dry soils in the shade

Seasonal change: inflorescence becomes straw-colored at maturity and florets fall off, leaving small bumps along the axis.


Bonap map - Elymus

Illinois Wildflowers - Bottlebrush grass

Michigan Flora - Elymus hystrix

Elymus hystrix Indiana dunes
Elymus hystrix Indiana dunes

Comments: Bottlebrush grass is fairly easy to identify out of the grasses because of its separated or interrupted florets protruding perpendicular from the stalk.  

Hystrix patula is an older synonym no longer recognized for bottlebrush grass.

Etymology: The epithet, hystrix, is Latin for, "porcupine".  


photo by Scott Namestnik

photo by Nathanael Pilla

photo by Nathanael Pilla

Landscape: bottlebrush grass provides a unique texture and design to the more shaded areas of your landscape.  The brush like inflorescence can be brilliantly lit up by the setting or rising sun. The flower heads look great as cut flowers.

The leaves can be damaged by deer and other herbivores.

Species Present and Native