Community favorite: Variegated northern sea oats

Published: Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 12CALIFORNIA LIFE
Last Modified: Friday, Aug. 16, 2013 - 7:40 pm

This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Community Favorites, 75 can't-fail, easy-care plants well-adapted to our region and recommended by local gardeners.

Variegated northern sea oats

Chasmanthium latifolium 'River Mist'

Size: Under 3 feet tall

Bloom season: Midsummer to early fall

Exposure: Filtered sun to full shade

Pruning needs: Little or none; remove spent flower stems and seed pods to prevent reseeding

Water needs: Once established, water deeply once a week

Snapshot: This pretty perennial adds interest to shady dry spots or areas with filtered sun. Almost bamboolike, the graceful leaves are striped with bright, silvery white. That striping carries over to the pale-green flower heads, which make excellent dried arrangements. The one drawback: All parts of this plant are toxic. You can see specimens in the arboretum teaching nursery on the UC Davis campus.

Why it's a favorite: "A bamboolike grass (but not invasive) with graceful, drooping seed heads," said arboretum volunteer Christy Dewees. "Fruiting stems harvested just before they ripen retain the striping of the leaves, and the pale-green color of the seed heads, making them a must for dried arrangements."

• Read more about the Arboretum's 75th anniversary at http://arboretum75th. For more on the Community Favorites and Arboretum All-Stars, click on

See a photo gallery of the Community favorites

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