Northern Sea Oats, despite the name, are not considered to be true “oats” (defined as “a plant with open, spreading panicle-bearing large spikelets” by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). They produce flat, showy seed pods in September and inconspicuous flowers shortly before on thin stalks. These will survive in full sun and moderately moist and decently drained soils, although they occur naturally in places with partial shade, moist and well-drained soils, and among competing vegetation (such as in Giant City State Park in southern Illinois).
Chasmanthium latifolium (Northern Sea Oats, Indian Woodoats) [previously Uniola latifolia]
Deciduous: The leaves and seed stalks persist through winter to protect the crown, but they should be cut back in spring.
Hardiness Zones: 4-8
Height: 0.6-1.5 meters (2-5 feet) tall
Diameter: 30-75 centimeters (12-30 inches) tall
Growth Rate: moderate
Root System: fibrous, spreading, crown
Subspecies: ‘River Mist’ (variegated foliage)
Tolerates: most conditions, easy to grow, poor air quality (urban pollution) somewhat
Problems (major): none
Problems (minor): very few pests and diseases of any noticable concern
Soil requirements: prefers moist, nutrient rich, slightly acidic, well-drained soils, tolerates soils low in nutrients
Air requirements: somewhat tolerant of air pollution
Watering requirement: moderate to high
Sun requirement: full sun to part-shade
Leaf shape: bright green, turning brown/copper-colored in winter
Leaf size: 12-20 centimeters (5-9 inches) long
Flower structure: inconspicious, wind pollinated
Flowering frequency: summer to late fall
Seeds: seed pods (panicles) initially green, later light tan/brown, very thin flower/seed stalks, flat, flutter in any
breeze, dispersed by wind
Subterranean storage organ: crown
Monoecious/Dioecious: monoecious (flowers “perfect”, bisexual))
Vegetative propagation: via roots or rhizomatous growths
The flat seed pods are unique in appearance and often stand out.
These are planted as low maintenance, easy to grow grasses. Indian Woodoats are used for ground cover or ornamentals in
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