Black Mountain Bluestem (NEW!)
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NEW!—‘Black Mountain’ puts this underappreciated native grass squarely in the spotlight. Andropogon ternarius varies across its natural range, growing up to 5’ tall in some areas. ‘Black Mountain’ has stayed at 3’ or under and is more compact and refined than the species. Flowering stems emerge bluish-green and develop reddish hues later in summer. The inflorescences have spikelets covered in silvery, white hairs. The effect is shimmering white tufts that contrast with the stems and sparkle in the sunlight.
Terry Dalton, Sustainable Landscape Curator at the North Carolina Arboretum, shared this selection with us. He noticed an unusual stand of A. ternarius in his family’s pasture in Black Mountain, NC. It almost didn’t happen—his father usually kept that section mowed but skipped it that season. Terry collected seed and grew it out. He’s been using this selection for years at the arboretum and thinks it’s even tougher than its close cousin, Schizachyrium scoparium. Terry’s family has lived in Black Mountain for five generations, so we named his find in honor of this special place.
As with the species, ‘Black Mountain’ thrives in poor soils that are coarse, rocky, or sandy, and it’s not fussy about pH. It’s perfect for tough spots, lending itself equally well to urban landscapes and ecological plantings.
*Note: please adapt these suggestions as needed to accommodate your local conditions.