Tufted Hairgrass

Tufted hairgrass (Deschampsia cespitosa)
Deschampsia cespitosa

Tufted Hairgrass is found around the world including the eastern and western coasts of North America, parts of South America, and Eurasia. It is a native, perennial, tussock forming grass found along stream banks and in moist meadows, fields, wet ditches and open areas surrounding lakes and ponds. Tufted hairgrass is a large densely tufted, course, long lived, perennial bunch grass. It has bright green foliage and a large volume of fountain-like seed culms emerging in early spring, making it highly aesthetic. Tufted hairgrass prefer open sites. This grass is rarely, if ever an under story species of temperate forest communities (Brown et al. 1988).

In the Pacific Northwest tufted hairgrass form pure stands in wet and intermittently flooded areas such as tidal mudflats and estuaries plant communities. It grows in seeps bogs, and brackish waters along the coastal waterways. It is very salt tolerant grass and, as a result, is commonly included in many restoration or re-vegetation projects where brackish water exists.

Tufted hairgrass is also a rapid colonizer of disturbed sites at high elevations (8,000 ft – Cascade & Sierra Range). Such characteristics make it valuable for reclamation of disturbed high elevation mines, ski slopes and high elevation meadows. Tufted hairgrass, unlike blue wildrye, is genetically heterogeneous, self-incompatible and requires wind and insect pollinators for effective fertilization. Tufted hairgrass should be included in wetland, restoration projects since it provides very dense nesting foliage and has a very long summer green period. It is also a valuable stream bank erosion plant where long-term stabilization is necessary, and should be established with a nurse crop (blue wildrye, meadow barley, California brome, Alaska brome) or native straw mulch for superior first year establishment.


  • Light Requirements: Full Sun
  • Water Requirements: Dry, Moist, Seasonally Wet
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Spreads:
  • Wildlife Support: Birds or Mammals
  • Edible: No
  • Mature Height: 2-3ft
  • Mature Width: 1-2ft