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Products > Sporobolus wrightii
Sporobolus wrightii - Giant Sacaton
Image of Sporobolus wrightii
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Grass
Family: Poaceae (Gramineae) (Grasses)
Origin: California (U.S.A.)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Tan
Bloomtime: Summer
Synonyms: [S. aroides ssp. wrightii]
Height: 4-6 feet
Width: 3-5 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): No Irrigation required
Winter Hardiness: < 0 °F
Sporobolus wrightii (Giant Sacaton) - A tall warm season semi-evergreen native American perennial bunchgrass with gray-green leaves to 4-6 feet tall by as wide topped by attractive branched flowering stems up to 5-6 feet tall which take on a nice golden color in winter. Plant in full to part sun in most any soil type, including alkaline ones, and irrigate infrequently to not at all but looks best and grows to its full height with an occasional watering. It is evergreen in our climate and cold tolerant well below 0° F and useful in gardens down to USDA Zone 5. To keep it neat looking we cut it back to a 1 foot tall clump in early spring. This beautiful grass has performed very well in our test gardens for over 15 years in non-irrigated and occasionally irrigated areas. Its inflorescences can be cut and brought inside for fresh and dried arrangements. It is a great replacement for other non-native, water loving grasses like maiden grass, Miscanthus sinensis and pampas grass, Cortaderia selloana. Our form of this grass has finer texture and is smaller than another selection in the trade called 'Windbreaker' and it is one of Randy Baldwin's favorite larger drought tolerant grasses! Giant Sacaton is native to sandy open ground, rocky slopes, and moist clay flats, floodplains, and dry lakes from 2,000 to 7,000 feet in arid eastern California (near Parker) east to Texas and south to northern and central Mexico. Once a dominant species in its native habitat the range of this plant has suffered from habitat loss to agriculture and to grazing. The name for the genus comes from thje Greek words 'spora' meaning "seed" and 'ballein' meaning "to throw" alluding to the free seed and the manner of its release. The specific epithet honors American botanist Charles (Carlos) Wright (1811-1885) who collected widely in Texas. This species was first described in 1882 by British botanist William Munro and American botanist Frank Lamson Scribner in the Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club (9: 103) from a specimen collected the year prior from near Pantano, Arizona by the American botanist Cyrus G. Pringle. It is most commonly called Sacaton or Giant Sacaton but other common names include Big Sacaton and Wright's Dropseed. The common name "sacaton" comes from the American Spanish words zacatón and zacate that was derived from the Aztec Nahuatl word zacatl, meaning "a coarse grass". With encouragement from our friend John Greenlee (AKA "The Grassman"), we started growing this beautiful grass in 2004. In 2015 we submitted this plant for trialing in the UC Davis Irrigation Trials and it performed admirably at all irrigation levels but best at the lowest (20% ETo).  Information displayed on this page about  Sporobolus wrightii is based on the research conducted about it in our library and from reliable online resources. We also note those observations we have made of this plant as it grows in the nursery's garden and in other gardens, as well how crops have performed in our nursery field. We will incorporate comments we receive from others, and welcome to hear from anyone who may have additional information, particularly if they share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.