Tall Oatgrass (Elatius)

The Tall Oatgrass (Elatius) is generally described as a perennial graminoid. This is not native to the U.S. (United States) and has its most active growth period in the spring . The greatest bloom is usually observed in the early summer, with fruit and seed production starting in the spring and continuing until summer. Leaves are not retained year to year. The Tall Oatgrass (Elatius) has a moderate life span relative to most other plant species and a moderate growth rate. At maturity, the typical Tall Oatgrass (Elatius) will reach up to 4 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 0 inches.

The Tall Oatgrass (Elatius) is not commonly available from nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by seed. It has a moderate ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have high vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -38°F. has medium tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Erosion control: Tall oatgrass is a useful conservation grass for cover and forage on surface mined lands and marginal pastureland.

Livestock: Tall oatgrass can be used for livestock forage beginning in its second growing season; however, it is not recommended as a major component of forage seedings as other grasses are superior for this purpose.

General Characteristics

Arrhenatherum elatius, tall oatgrass, is a perennial, cool-season bunchgrass generally grown in Europe where it once was a component of the grasslands. Culms are erect, from 3 to 5 feet tall. Leaf blades, from 3/8 to 3/4 inches wide, are flat and rough to the touch. Seed heads are narrow panicles 6 to 10 inches long with long, twisted, angled, exposed awns.

Required Growing Conditions

Introduced from Europe in the early 1800s, tall oatgrass has become naturalized in meadows, fields, open ground, waste places, and roadsides from Newfoundland to British Columbia, south to Georgia, Louisiana, New Mexico, and California. For a current distribution map, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

Cultivation and Care

Tall oatgrass is easily established, adapted to excessively drained low fertility soils, and compatible with legumes. A firm, weed-free seedbed is necessary for good stands. Spring seedings produce best results as the seedlings are not winter hardy. Seeding rates should range from 5 to 8 pounds pure live seed using hulled seed. Seed should be planted approximately 1/4 inch deep and cultipacked.

General Upkeep and Control

Apply lime and fertilizer according to soil test results when seeding and for maintenance. Use of herbicides in the establishment year to control broadleaf weeds will improve success of the planting. Mow or graze for control in subsequent years.

Pests and Potential Problems Tall oatgrass is highly resistant to disease and insects.

Cultivars, Improved, and Selected Materials (and area of origin) Seed is available from commercial seed producers.

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Moderate
General Type Graminoid
Growth Period Spring
Growth Duration Perennial
Lifespan Moderate
Plant Nativity Introduced to U.S.
Commercial Availability No Known Source
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Early Summer
Displays Fall Colors No
Shape/Growth Form Bunch
Drought Tolerance Medium
Shade Tolerance Intermediate
Height When Mature 4
Vegetative Spread None
Flower Color Yellow
Flower Conspicuousness No
Fruit/Seed Abundance High
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Spring Summer
Seed Spread Rate Moderate
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Seed
Moisture Requirements Medium
Cold Stratification Required No
Minimum Temperature -38
Soil Depth for Roots 14
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Regrowth Rate Moderate
After-Harvest Resprout Ability No
Responds to Coppicing No
Growth Requirements
pH Range 5–7 pH
Precipitation Range 32–32 inches/yr
Planting Density 0–0 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Coarse, Fine, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 14
Minimum Frost-Free Days 90 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance Low
CaCO3 Tolerance High
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Palatability Medium
Fire Resistant No
Causes Livestock Bloating None

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database, plants.usda.gov.
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA