Plume grass erianthus ravennae

Plume Grass Seed – Ravenna Ornamental Grass Seeds

Grass Specifications

Season: Perennial

USDA Zones: 5 – 10

Height: 72 inches

Width: 60 inches

Foliage Color: Grey-green

Flower Color: Early violet tones turn to silvery-white

Growth Rate: Fast

Fall Color: From grey-green to bronze tones

Soil Requirement: Well-drained soils, pH 5.8 – 7.5

Environment: Full sun

Planting Directions

Temperature: 68F

Average Germ Time: 2 – 3 weeks

Light Required: Yes

Depth: Seeds must be covered thinly

Sowing Rate: 5 – 6 seeds per plant

Moisture: Keep seeds moist until germination

Plant Spacing: 72 inches

Care & Maintenance: Plume

Plume Grass (Erianthus ravennae) – If you want a giant ornamental grass, start Plume Grass seeds, and enjoy the beautiful display of this large grass. Also known as Ravenna Grass and Hardy Pampas Grass, it is one of the tallest ornamental grasses that is hardy above Zone 6, and it is readily used as a substitute for pampas grass in the northern regions. A synonymous botanical name is Saccharum ravennae. The arching gray-green leaves reach a height of about 5 feet, but in late summer the feather-duster-like plumes can reach well over 6 feet in height. These cream colored plumes are good for cutting and can be used in fresh or dried arrangements. In autumn the foliage and stems turn from pale green to varying shades of bronze and red and the interest continues into the winter especially when covered with snow.

How To Grow Plume Grass From Ornamental Grass Seeds: Hardy Pampas grass seeds can be started indoors. Using a seed starting tray filled with a pre-moistened seed starting medium that drains well, place the ornamental grass seeds on top of the soil and gently press the seeds in. Keep the Ravenna Grass seeds moist until germination occurs. Plant Erianthus ravennae Plume Grass out after danger of frost has passed in the spring. The grass is hardy and can tolerate a wide variety of soils, but it does best in well-drained soils with a neutral pH.

Ravenna Grass Information: Guide To Growing Ravenna Grass

Erianthus ravennae is now known as Saccharum ravennae, although both names can commonly be found in literature. It is also called elephant grass, hardy pampas grass or (more commonly) ravenna grass. No matter the name, this is a large perennial grass native to the Mediterranean but commonly used as an ornamental plant. It is an outstanding specimen but does have the potential to naturalize and become a nuisance in some regions. Read on to learn how to care for ravenna grass in landscapes and avoid any invasive potential while enjoying its magnificent structure and plumes.

What is Ravenna Grass?

If you want hardy elegance, combined with towering magnificence, try ravenna grass. It is a massive specimen grass that makes a perfect screen or simply a focal point in the landscape. Is ravenna grass invasive? Be aware that it is a Class A noxious weed in Washington and some other states. It is best to check with your local extension before growing ravenna grass.

Ravenna grass has year-round appeal. It is a large ornamental that may achieve 8 to 12 feet in height (2.4 to 3.6 m.) with a spread of 5 feet (1.5 m.). Ravenna grass

information informs us that it is deer resistant, drought and frost tolerant, hence the designation “hardy pampas grass.” In fact, it is often used as a substitute for pampas grass in northern gardens.

One of the more identifying characteristics are its leaf blades. These are 3 to 4 feet long (.91 to 1.2 m.) and are blue green with hairy bases, bearing a distinctive white mid-vein. Ravenna grass in landscapes forms a dense clump with stems that are slightly weaker than traditional pampas grass. The plant produces tall, silver white, feathery plumes in late summer which are long lasting and attractive in floral arrangements.

Growing Ravenna Grass

Ravenna grass is a warm season grass. It is appropriate in USDA zones 6-9 in sunny, fertile, moist, but well-drained soil. In areas with boggy soil, stems become brittle and hollow and more prone to breakage. Such conditions also contribute to winter injury. In clay soils, amend the area with plenty of compost or other organic matter.

Situate the plant with some protection from wind to prevent damage to foliage and stems. In the landscape, ravenna grass makes a lovely mass planting, can be used as erosion control, makes a soothing barrier plant, or may be part of a cutting garden. It has few pest or disease issues but is prone to some fungal diseases.

Care for Ravenna Grass

This hardy grass is a very tolerant and stoic plant. It can withstand almost anything the average landscape can throw at it, but it does not thrive in overly wet soils, although it does need consistent water. A drip system is ideal for irrigation, where overhead watering can create fungal issues.

The plumes persist well into winter, adding dimension and interest. Some gardeners believe pruning is part of good care for ravenna grass. This is not necessarily true, but can make for a tidier plant and allow new spring foliage room to grow. If you choose to prune the plant, do so in early spring, cutting the entire stems and foliage back to 6 inches (15 cm.) from the crown. In areas prone to reseeding, such as the Pacific Northwest, remove the plumes before they are ripe to prevent seed from spreading.

Saccharum ravennae

Authors: Jeffrey Firestone, Global Invasive Species Team, The Nature Conservancy

Taxonomy Kingdom: Plantae Phylum: Magnoliophyta Class: Liliopsida Order: Cyperales Family: Poaceae Genus: Saccharum Species: S. ravennae Subspecies: S. ravennae Scientific Name Saccharum ravennae
L. Scientific Name Synonyms Ripidium ravennae
(L.) Trinius
Erianthus ravennae
(L.) L.
Common Names ravennagrass


Appearance Ripidium ravennae is a tall clumping grass with a basal tuft of leaves and flowering stalks that reach heights of 8-12 ft. (2.4-3.7 m), towering over big bluestem and other plants and making them easily visible from a distance. The base of the clump can be several feet in diameter indicating a sizeable root mass. Foliage The basal tuft of leaves and stems are covered with fine hairs. Flowers Flowers are feathery, fan-shaped, terminal panicles. They are silvery to pink in color and up to 2 ft. (0.6 m) long. Flowering occurs September through October. Fruit Purplish spikelets are 0.12-0.24 in. (3-6 mm) long. They are spread by wind. Ecological Threat Ripidium ravennae has been observed spreading from plantings along roadsides and other disturbed edge habitats as well as in fields and other open sites. Control is difficult with the most effective method simply to physically remove the plants by pulling or digging them out. Ripidium ravennae is native to southern Europe and was introduced for ornamental purposes.


  • Plant Invaders of the Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas
  • Flora of China,


Latin Names:
Saccharum ravennae (L.) L.
Erianthus ravennae (L.) Beauv.

Common Names:
Ravenna grass, ravennagrass, Hardy Pampas Grass, Hardy Pampasgrass; Plume grass

A tall, dramatic bunchgrass that has escaped from horticulture into wetlands and river channels. Ravenna grass will grow as separate plants in excess of six feet tall. It has long blades that extend up and arcing from the center, with bamboo-like flowering canes emerging from the center. The canes do have some nodes, although they are annual and generally are roughly a centimeter in diameter. The canes raise large flowering plumes above 10 feet. The plumes look rather like feather-dusters, and can disperse tiny seeds with feathery attachments on the wind.

There are no US natives that it is known to resemble, due to its dramatic size, but not all the grass flora is known to this author. It most strongly resembles the horticultural and invasive Pampas grass and Jubata grass (Cortaderia selloana and Cortaderia jubata). Also large bunchgrasses with plumes, Ravenna grass can be distinguished by three main factors: the other two species have sharply serrated leaves that can cut a hand but no hairs, while Ravenna has weakly serrated leaves with hairy bases (curled around the other leaves, below the blade joint); Ravenna grass has plumes even taller than pampas, borne on stalks that stand well above the leaves and have nodes or joints, while the Cortaderia spp. have plumes on node-free stems that appear to be built similarly to the leaves; Ravenna grass is much more cold-tolerant than pampas grass, and somewhat more cold-tolerant than jubata grass, so states with regular freezes are much more likely to see Ravenna (See Natural History section for reported ranges). Ravenna grass also tends to have a thick white vein on the center underside of a leaf.

The blade part of the leaves seem to be longer than most prairie grasses, even the biggest like switchgrass, and the seed stalks are distinctive. Phragmites australis and Arundo donax do have plumes borne on stalks, but the leaves are much shorter and strap-like, and borne off the stalks rather than separately from the base.

Stewardship summary

Ravenna grass is a new addition to the invasive plant catalog, although it has appeared in horticultural trade as a minor player since at least 1921. It primarily establishes on the margins of riparian zones, although growth on gravel bars in mid-channel is also common. It can increase to monoculture under these conditions. As a newly recognized problem, and with comparatively few invasions recorded, many of the impacts are partly speculative based upon similarity to Cortaderia jubata, Cortaderia selloanaselloana and other invaders of the same habitat type. At this point, it may be prudent to discourage use and persistence of this plant so that we are not able to fully document how bad its impacts could be.

Ravenna grass can establish with relatively little disturbance, and natural disturbance is more than ample (e.g. natural seep on inaccessible cliffs, natural stream bank erosion). It can form impenetrable stands of one species, and can grow out from under other vegetation. It will exclude native communities through competition, although not consistently. It appears to specialize in moist areas, including in California, Utah, Grand Canyon and Arizona, and so it may be more effective at harming important or rare species than its area/extent suggest, given the infrequency if moist habitats in those states.

It produces copious biomass in areas that generally have relatively little, especially by growing on harsh substrate like gravel banks, and being much taller than surrounding vegetation. This would change the shade profile, plant competition and flammability of the community. Older stands may be able to carry fire that would not normally work in riparian vegetation. It can anchor soils normally more subject to shifting (e.g. mid-channel) and act as a physical barrier to stream flow through its biomass and accumulation of flotsam, thatch and sediment. This may shift erosion locations.

Experience in San Diego area estuaries suggests that Cortaderia selloana uses much more water than the vegetation in replaced. Although the cooler climate may make this less likely, the high large increase in leaf area over some of the native communities it replaces may also facilitate water usage.

Natural history

Ravenna grass is native to the Mediterranean, and is names for the town of Ravenna, Italy.

It has been reported to be growing well away from human cultivation in Cache Creek, northern California, rivers in Oklahoma and Arizona, wetlands in Michigan and near Roswell, New Mexico and in seeps and other rare moist communities in CA and UT. It appears to require moisture for naturalization, as its habitat generally is wetland edge, flood plain above the high-water mark, and other places with moisture and a micro-site of bare soil, sand or rock. It can frequently be found in suburban yards across much of the US.

It is dispersed througout the US as an ornamental grass, and has been sold, consistently but infrequently, for 90 years. It is currently recommended for planting by several state extension services and botanic gardens. The invasion in the Grand Canyon resulted from deliberate planting as it considered at the time to be a recommended, safe plant.

It is a perennial bunchgrass that is hardy from zones 5a (some report 4b) to >9. Based upon existing reports from NM, AZ, and southern CA, the upper limit of zones and warmth is probably indefinite as long as moisture is available. It grows quickly. It will die back during a freeze, leaving copious amounts of dry leaves and standing stalks, and regrow vigorously. It flowers in late summer, although this may be habitat dependent. Individual flowers are small and, like many grasses, inconspicuous, but the plumes for which this grass is ornamentally valued contain hundreds or thousands each. It reproduces through copious production of seed. It is not known how many years until seed production begins. Seeds are small and disperse readily on the wind, esp. with a 10 foot height advantage. They probably float on the surface tension of the water as well. As the seeds are small, a seed bank is less likely, but this is not known.


No methods are specifically indicated for this species, as it is a new problem. Control can be expected to be similar to recommendations for the species provided here, from morphology. Ravenna grass is a distant relative of sugar cane, and some research may be available for this species on herbicide tolerance; there are also two peer-reviewed articles on herbicide tolerance for control of weeds around desirable horticultural ravenna grass that may be available for guidance.

Physical control: Probably effective, esp. for small clumps before reproductive size. However, there is a good chance that merely mowing / grazing would be inadequate because this plant is said to resprout after damage. Removing the roots and ensuring that they are either removed, or prevented from contacting moist soil is recommended. If leaving on-site, the plants should be placed off moist soil so that they can dry and die without rerooting. Containing the seeds so that they do not disperse during control efforts will reduce reinfestation the following season. Beware of the hairs on stalks and leaf bases. Although not especially irritating, they can be somewhat unpleasant. The Grand Canyon has experience using physical control for several years.

Burning is not expected to be sufficient, as they may resprout from the moist and insulated roots, although this has not been examined.

Chemical Control: Several post emergent herbicides should be effective. Glyphosate in the fall is likely the most chemically effective, but spraying before seed production is also desirable to prevent reseeding. Glyphosate could provide either area control or targeted elimination while preserving neighboring plants, due to its ability to translocate. Currently, the Yolo County Resource Control District, and UC Davis are experimenting with various types of chemical control.

Information sources

Arizona Weeds and Invasive Plants Working Group (AZ-WIPWG) listed as “Medium-Alert” California Invasive Plant Council (Cal-IPC) listed as “Medium Red-Alert”

Spanish Working Group on Urban and Alien Plants (Dana et al n.d.) Rank 2/3, “it is known as invasive and although it is not threatening natural or man-made ecosystems, it is suspected to do it in the near future”

Branhagen (n.d.) for Kansas City rated as: Plants that are severe pests near where planted but whose seeds do not disperse great distances. These plants should not be planted near natural lands. However, he describes the S. ravennae as “A plant to watch…”


PhD Thesis, Lacy Jo Burgess, University of Oklahoma, Norman.

AZ-WIPWG review (broken link) by Dr. Ed Northam

Original Document

Calif. Invasive Plant Council Plant Assessment Form; Jeffrey Firestone, 2007

Articles in Archived Publications • Main Version
• Element Stewardship Abstracts

Welcome to Tagawa Gardens Nursery & Garden Center

Hardy Pampas Grass fruit

Hardy Pampas Grass fruit

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Hardy Pampas Grass foliage

Hardy Pampas Grass foliage

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Plant Height: 6 feet

Flower Height: 12 feet

Spread: 8 feet


Hardiness Zone: 4

Other Names: Ravenna Grass; Plume Grass


A giant of the ornamental grass world and hardy for northern areas; spikes of silvery flower plumes with a hint of purple reach skyward in late summer; spectacular fall display of orange, tan, purple, and the dried stalks add lovely winter interest

Ornamental Features

Hardy Pampas Grass features airy plumes of silver hop-like flowers with a purple flare at the ends of the stems in late summer. The flowers are excellent for cutting. Its attractive grassy leaves are grayish green in color. As an added bonus, the foliage turns a gorgeous harvest gold in the fall. The fruit is not ornamentally significant.

Landscape Attributes

Hardy Pampas Grass is a dense herbaceous perennial grass with an upright spreading habit of growth. Its relatively fine texture sets it apart from other garden plants with less refined foliage.

This plant will require occasional maintenance and upkeep, and is best cleaned up in early spring before it resumes active growth for the season. It is a good choice for attracting birds to your yard, but is not particularly attractive to deer who tend to leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. It has no significant negative characteristics.

Hardy Pampas Grass is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Accent
  • Vertical Accent
  • Mass Planting
  • Hedges/Screening
  • General Garden Use

Planting & Growing

Hardy Pampas Grass will grow to be about 6 feet tall at maturity extending to 12 feet tall with the flowers, with a spread of 8 feet. It grows at a fast rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 10 years.

This plant should only be grown in full sunlight. It prefers dry to average moisture levels with very well-drained soil, and will often die in standing water. It is not particular as to soil type or pH. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments. This species is native to parts of North America. It can be propagated by division.

Ravenna grass

Size and Form

Ravenna grass is a very large grass. In foliage it will grow 4 to 5 feet tall. When the flower stalks expand, the plant may reach heights between 8 and 12 feet. Foliage is arching, flower stalks more upright. Due to the large size of this plant, care should be taken when siting it in a landscape. This is a warm season, clumping grass.

Plant Care

Full sun is best for this grass. It prefers moist sites, but can tolerate some dryness.
Avoid excessive fertilizer as this may lead to the plant becoming weak and floppy.

This is a warm season grass, so its most active growth occurs in summer. It will remain standing in winter and can act as winter interest.
Since this grass remains attractive through winter, it should not be cut back until early spring, before new growth begins. At that time, it can be cut down to the ground.

Disease, pests, and problems

No serious pest problems.
This grass will self seed and has shown invasive tendencies in southern states.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to southern Europe and northern Africa.

Leaf description

Leaves are 1/2 to 1 inch wide and 3 to 4 feet long. They are gray-green in summer. In fall, the leaves will be tinged with shades or orange , purple and tan before turning brown for winter.

Flower description

Flowering occurs in late summer (usually August and September). The tiny flowers are silvery white to beige and often tinged with purple. They are held in plume-like clusters. The flowers are wind pollinated.

Fruit description

The small fruit (caryopsis or grains) form along the plume-like cluster that held the flowers. AT maturity, the fruit have a cream color and a fluffy appearance. They persist into winter.

Ravenna Grass

Ravenna Grass, Plume Grass

Big and bold ravenna grass, also known as plume grass, has arching green foliage stalks that are 4 to 5 feet tall and flower stalks expanding to reach 8 to 12 feet tall. Ravenna grass can be employed throughout the landscape as a living screen or focal point. Be sure to select a planting site that will support the mature size of this large grass. Ravenna grass should be used with caution as it has shown invasive tendencies in warm climates.

genus name
  • Saccharum ravennae
  • Sun
plant type
  • Perennial
  • 3 to 8 feet,
  • 8 to 20 feet
  • 3 to 6 feet
flower color
  • White
foliage color
  • Blue/Green
season features
  • Summer Bloom,
  • Colorful Fall Foliage,
  • Winter Interest
problem solvers
  • Deer Resistant,
  • Drought Tolerant,
  • Good For Privacy
special features
  • Low Maintenance,
  • Cut Flowers
  • 5,
  • 6,
  • 7,
  • 8,
  • 9,
  • 10
  • Division,
  • Seed

Garden Plans For Ravenna Grass

Image zoom

What to Plant With Ravenna Grass

A low-maintenance plant with a prominent landscape presence, ravenna grass is an easy-care choice. Pair it with other easy-to-grow plants for a landscape that is brimming with color and texture year-round but demands little in the way of upkeep. Great planting partners include barberry and elderberry shrubs. Easy-care perennial companions include tickseed, aster, and coneflower.

Ravenna grass grows best in full sun and well-drained soil. It tolerates a variety of soil conditions and grows well in loose soil that has moderate fertility. Avoid planting it in rich, fertile soil as it has a tendency to develop weak stems and flop over in these conditions. Also, there is no need to fertilize ravenna grass. Once established, ravenna grass tolerates moderate drought. Plant ravenna grass in spring or early summer. Water plants deeply and regularly during the first growing season to establish an extensive root system. Once the plant is established, reduce watering. Count on ravenna grass to bloom in late summer. Harvest the flowers when they are fresh or after they dry on the plant for use in floral arrangements.

Take advantage of the striking winter appearance of ravenna grass by allowing the plant to stand through winter. Its plumes will add texture and movement to the winter landscape. In early spring, cut back the entire plant to ground level. Hedge shears or loppers are useful for cutting the thick stems.

Plant Ravenna Grass With:

Barberry paints the landscape with arching, fine-textured branches of purple-red or chartreuse foliage. In fall, leaves brighten to reddish orange and spikes of red berries appear like sparklers as the foliage drops. The mounding habit of barberries makes for graceful hedging and barriers, and the thorns protect privacy.Japanese barberry is considered an invasive plant in the Eastern U.S. and the species is banned from cultivation in some places, so check local restrictions before planting.

Highly ornamental shrubs that feature mottled bark and attractive winged fruits or showy foliage and white berries, varieties of euonymus can climb as vines or form small trees or low-mounding shrubs. The wintercreepers offer the most dramatic foliage, usually variegated white and green or gold and green. White berries persist on the plants through the winter, enticing resident birds. For fall color, the burning bush sets the standard for flaming foliage among shrubs. Euonymus in all its forms appreciates a fertile, moist soil that’s well drained.Note: Some euonymus varieties are considered invasive pests in some regions; check local restrictions before planting them. Others, such as eastern wahoo, are native to North America.

Huge, showy blooms are the hallmark of the hibiscus family, whether the flying saucers on hardy perennial hibiscus, the Hawaiian charmers of the tropical hibiscus, or the frilly-flowered Rose of Sharon that grows into a large shrub or small tree. Not only do hibiscus blooms boast an amazing array of colors, vastly widened through hybridizing, they also draw hummingbirds en masse. The newer, dark-leaf introductions are wonderful architectural fillers in container gardens. Cold-winter gardeners can grow the more tender types of hibiscus in containers and wheel them into the house when winter approaches. Prune back heavily to encourage blooms, and watch for aphids and whitefly, which are attracted to all forms of hibiscus. Learn about the perennial varieties of hibiscus.

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