Pennisetum alopecuroides
Photo by Flickr user vlad

dwarf fountain grass


  • This plant has a Plant Risk Evaluator rating of High Potential Risk


Pennisetum alopecuroides is a clumping perennial ornamental grass that grows 2-3 ft. tall and wide. It has arching flower plumes that grow above the foliage in fall. Pennisetums alopecuroides is native to Asia and Australia.

The parent species is what the PRE Evaluation was conducted for. All cultivars will need to be evaluated separately. The parent species "self-seeds in optimum growing but cultivars do not come true from seed" (Missouri Botanical Garden). Many cultivars exist, including 'Hameln', 'Moudry', 'Little Honey', 'Little Bunny' 'Cassian', 'Red Head' and more.

According to Hoffman Nursery, most Pennisteum alopecuroides cultivars do not reseed, but 'Moudry' is a "fairly heavy seeder and will produce offspring not true to type. Be sure to pluck unwanted seedlings from the landscape." More research needs to be done on the ability of each cultivar to self-seed.

Why is this plant not included on the invasive plant list?

Pennisetum alopecuroides was included in the 2017 nursery survey, mostly to find out which cultivars are being sold in California. It was found at 6.5% of nurseries. Several cultivars were found during the survey, including 'Moudry', 'Desert Plains', 'Hameln', 'Red Buttons', 'Little Bunny', 'Piglet', and 'Burgundy Bunny'. Only the parent species was screened with PRE, and some of these cultivars may self-sow more than others, and may only be able to self-sow in optimal conditions. More research needs to be done on these cultivars and their potential to become invasive in California. There are no reported observations of these plants becoming naturalized in California on the Calflora website. We will keep an eye on this plant to see if it is an invasive risk or possibly an alternative to Pennisetum setaceum.