feather reed grass ‘karl foerster’

Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ (feather reed grass ‘Karl Foerster’). This Poaceae occurs as a natural hybrid between C. arundinacea and C. epigejos, the former native to Europe and the later native to Asia. The hybrid was first discovered by, and subsequently named in honor of, German nurseryman Karl Foerster.

Feather reed grass forms tight clumps of up to 0.5 m (2 ft.) wide with a strongly narrow vertical growth habit. The narrow and flatted leaves of C. x acutiflora grow up to 1 m (36 in.) long, with inflorescences towering above up to 1.5 m (5 ft.) tall. Inflorescences are topped by feathery flower spikes of pink-purple tinged flowers in May-September, followed by flower spikes fading to a bright blonde-tan for fall and winter months.

‘Karl Foerster’ is one of the most adaptable ornamental grasses available for the garden; tolerating a wide variety of soil, sun/shade, and environmental conditions. Plants grown in part-shade will produce wider, floppier leaves with shorter inflorescences and may appear overall less vigorous. The adaptability and strong structural presence of C. x acutiflora make this ornamental grass both an important part of a structural-textural matrix in a garden, such as it is used at Lurie Garden, and often overused in municipal and commercial landscapes. This completing dual nature adds to the interest when using C. x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’, sparingly, in the garden.

Botanical Name
Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’
Common Name
feather reed grass ‘Karl Foerster’
Family Poaceae
USDA Zone 5 to 9
Light Requirement Full Sun
Season(s) of interest Summer, Fall, Winter
Height and Spread
3-5ft x 1.5-2.5ft (90-150cm x 45-75cm)
Flower Color  
Attracts Wildlife  
Additional Information  
Location in Lurie Garden
Southwest Dark Plate, North Dark Plate