Sunday, December 23, 2012

Underappreciation Files #3: Stud Puppy

Here is a grass that needs internet documentation as well as promotion into Horticulture.
Achnatherum scribneri  (AKA Stipa scribneri) or Scribner's Needlegrass.
{Eriogonum umbellatum 'Shasta Sulfur' and Penstemon alamosensis in background}
Until now, there were literally no pictures of this thing alive on the net.

Achnatherum scribneri is native to Colorado and a few other Southwestern States.  A warm-season bunchgrass rising some 2-3 feet tall and a little less wide, the stiff stems hold up against snow while they are a quite attractive natural-blonde.  The above wintertime picture is in an unirrigated grouping of them at Timberline Gardens, where this species is perhaps sold nowhere else in the world.  Seriously.

 It was supplied to Timberline by the great Texas/Colorado Gardener/Plantsman Tom Peace, who found it in the Crestone, CO area.  It was labeled in the nursery for some time, lacking a real identity, as "Muhlenbergia 'Stud Puppy'".  That "sexy moniker" encouraged those with a sense of humour to try it and for some years, Denver gardeners have begun to enjoy this durable plant in their dry gardens.
I write this post because tonight, having wanted to share it for some years, I've finally found some pictures.  More importantly, I finally managed to identify it scientifically based on deliciously obscure and sometimes painfully confusing botanical academia.

This is a long-lived and rock-sturdy species one could use to dominate a very dry meadow that wants a tall (but not very) tall grass whose round, clumping form will allow good foot-space for neighbouring wildflowers.  The dried leaf/stem material from prior years is acceptable to warrant not giving this plant a traditional yearly haircut.  Mr. Peace notes, and I can agree, that it grows in either clay or sandy soil, despite hailing from sands specifically.  

Let me sum up the key details- extremely dry growing, long-lived, low/no maintenence.  Yet rare as an ornamental.   I can't wait to use it more myself!

4 comments:

Lucie K said...

This is on my "must haves" list. Can't wait to scoop one up come March!

David Cristiani said...

Never heard of this one...nice! (more to grasses than Blue Avena, Miscanthus, Karl Foerster...)

kintgen said...

Thanks for figuring out what its true identity is. A wonderful grass.

Acantholimon said...

I keep forgetting to get this from Kelly, Kenton: thanks for the reminder. Muhlies ROCK...This year I'm getting a bunch of this for SURE! I think Plant Select is missing the boat on this one. I think Tom Peace has great names for plants (although I know some people hate this name). I thought of you tonight as I watched the Oscars--McFarland stole your surname for his first name! Now I am thoroughly confused. See you later this month.