Brachyelytrum erectum, Southern Shorthusk

This underappreciated woodland grass is also known as Bearded Shorthusk. When it first arrived in our woods, near a recent tree fall, its appearance was so striking that I though it was a new invasive species on our property. But, it turns out, this cool season grass is a fairly common denizen of woodlands in Minnesota, although not as common, in the north anyway, as its cousin Northern Shorthusk. 

You won't find Southern Shorthusk at any other nursery. I have been collecting seeds for a few years now as well as dividing potted specimens. It is not easy to germinate or grow in a pot, yet does well in the soil. My experience at Shelterwood suggests it prefers 75-90% shade, preferably dappled, and is not in need of more than medium upland soil under average rainfall. The drought has not seemed to impact the plants in our woods. It does appear to appreciate semi-decomposed leaf litter and some evidence suggests it likes a sun-facing slope.

So far Southern Shorthusk has revealed itself to be an amazing combination of upright, clumping habit, almost bamboo-like, broad leaves, and attractive arching panicles. It's quite a natural for the plant trade, but for whatever reason it has not been picked up. I have only a few and the price reflects the limited availability.

Blooms: white, June-July

Height: 1 to 3 feet

Conditions: shade, moist to medium soils