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Ferns and Grasses - Ornamental Grasses
See if you can get full marks in this informative quiz.

Ferns and Grasses - Ornamental Grasses

In gardening circles the word 'grasses' is used loosely to describe a number of families of grass-like plants including Cyperaceae (sedges) and Juncaceae (rushes). For the purposes of this quiz we have not included these genera because most people have no suitable marshy areas in which to grow them. The quiz contains representatives of 10 different families in order to give you a flavour for what is available.

To see a larger image, click on the picture.
1.
Can you name this ornamental grass?
Photograph courtesy of www.flickr.com/photos/white_wolf/
Chinese silver grass
Leafy reedgrass
Pampas grass
Fountain grass
  • Latin Name: Pennisetum setaceum.
  • Grows in tight clumps and is non-invasive.
  • As summer develops the long flower bearing stalks start to become pendulus and eventually bear 'foxtail' heads.
  • Does best in fertile soil and in full sun.
  • Can look breathtakingly beautiful in the winter.
  • It is advisable to cut the plants back in the spring before new growth begins.
2.
Can you name this ornamental grass?
Photograph courtesy of Miya.m
Witchgrass
Fountain grass
Chinese silver grass
Leafy reedgrass
  • Latin Name: Miscanthus sinensis.
  • Known by many different names including Eulalia grass, maiden grass, porcupine grass, Susuki grass and zebra grass!
  • Found growing wild throughout eastern Asia.
  • Can grow to over 2 metres tall.
  • Flowers are held well above the foliage and are usually tinged with purple.
  • It is very popular and several cultivars have been bred specifically for use in gardens.
3.
Can you name this ornamental grass?
Common bent
Tussock grass
Witchgrass
Blue fescue
  • Latin Name: Agrostis capillaris.
  • There are a large numbers of different species of Agrostis - over 100 according to Wikipedia.
  • It has to be said that it is not the most exciting plant - when grown in the garden it needs to be near brighter plants to cheer it up a little!
4.
Can you name this ornamental grass?
Photograph courtesy of Sten Porse
Leafy reedgrass
Weeping sedge
Japanese forest grass
Blue fescue
  • Latin Name: Carex pendula.
  • Prefers moist soil, preferably heavy clay.
  • In the wild it is often found in woodlands and close to water.
  • Each flowering stem carries both male and female spikes.
  • Flowers in May and June are followed by greenish-brown fruits about a month later.
5.
Can you name this ornamental grass?
Photograph courtesy of www.flickr.com/photos/nestmaker/
Fountain grass
Witchgrass
Common bent
Japanese forest grass
  • Latin Name: Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'.
  • Flowers are insignificant but it is well worth growing for its glowing yellow foliage.
  • Retains good foliage colour even when grown in partial shade.
  • Grows to a height of up to 40 cm.
  • Dies back to ground level in the winter.
  • Easy to grow and responds well to good, fertile soil.
6.
Can you name this ornamental grass?
Photograph courtesy of Matt Lavin
Fountain grass
Japanese forest grass
Chinese silver grass
Witchgrass
  • Latin Name: Panicum capillare.
  • Both the upper and lower surfaces of leaves are densely covered with tiny hairs and this is its most recognizable feature.
  • An annual plant that produces ample seeds each year to ensure its survival in a patch of the garden.
  • Regarded as a weed in the west of the USA.
7.
Can you name this ornamental grass?
Photograph courtesy of Namazu-tron
Fountain grass
Pampas grass
Tussock grass
Weeping sedge
  • Latin Name: Cortaderia selloana.
  • The plant is a native of South America and takes its name from the vast lowland plains of that country.
  • Flower heads are widely used in floral decorations.
  • Can grow up to 3 metres tall.
  • Be careful with the leaves because they can cut you like a razor!
8.
Can you name this ornamental grass?
Photograph courtesy of Opiola Jerzy (Poland)
Blue fescue
Witchgrass
Common bent
Tussock grass
  • Latin Name: Festuca glauca.
  • Forms a clump with individual flower stems reaching to about 18 cm high.
  • Light green flowers are followed by puffy seed heads.
  • Does well in dry soils with low nutrient levels.
  • Dislikes wet soils intensely!
  • Although it can be grown in slightly shaded areas it needs full sunlight to develop richness in its foliage colour.
9.
Can you name this ornamental grass?
Photograph courtesy of www.geograph.org.uk/profile/24143
Tussock grass
Weeping sedge
Common bent
Chinese silver grass
  • Latin Name: Deschampsia cespitosa.
  • Sometimes known as the Tufted hair-grass
  • Found wild in many places throughout America and Europe and often seen growing in association with other wild grasses.
  • Thrives on poor soils.
  • Very easy to grow and may become invasive.
  • Used extensively as a 'filler' plant in wildlife gardens.
10.
Can you name this ornamental grass?
Photograph courtesy of Stickpen
Weeping sedge
Leafy reedgrass
Japanese forest grass
Pampas grass
  • Latin Name: Calamagrostis foliosa.
  • Stems grow to between 30 and 60 cm in length.
  • Foliage colour ranges from blue-green to gold depending upon where it is grown and the time of year.
  • Flowers are creamy with a hint of green.
  • As with many other grasses it is easy to raise your own plants from seed.
Author:  Colin King

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