Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'
Common Name: Japanese forest grass 
Type: Ornamental grass
Family: Poaceae
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: July to August
Bloom Description: Yellow-green
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful
Tolerate: Deer, Black Walnut, Air Pollution


Best grown in humusy, consistently moist, well-drained soils in part shade. Tolerates close to full shade, particularly in the hot summer climates of the deep South. Best growth occurs in climates with cool summer temperatures. Hardy in Zones 5-9. Plant foliage will burn in full sun locations and lose color intensity (particularly on variegated leaf cultivars) in full shade. Clumps spread by rhizomes, but are not considered to be invasive. Mulch in winter. Trim foliage to the ground in late winter to early spring before the new shoots emerge. Tolerant of urban growing conditions including air pollution. Propagation is easiest by division. Species plants (not cultivars thereof) may be grown by seed.

Leaf variegation color is affected by the amount of sun exposure and the growing climate. In St. Louis, the variegated striping appears gold in part shade. Plants will grow well in deeper shade (particularly in hot summer climates), but the gold variegation changes to lime green.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Hakonechloa macra, commonly called Japanese forest grass or Hakone grass, is a rhizomatous, shade-loving, deciduous perennial grass that is native both to moist mountain areas including wet rocky cliffs and to moist woodland areas in central Japan, including areas around Mt. Hakone from which both its genus name and common name are derived. Other common names include forest grass and Japanese forest grass. Gracefully arching, linear-lanceolate, bright green leaves (to 10" long and 3/8" wide) form dense, spreading, cascading mounds to 12-18" tall and to 24" wide. Leaves have a papery texture resembling the leaves of some types of bamboo.

Genus name comes from the Japanese place named Hakone and the Greek word chloa meaning a grass.

Specific epithet means large.

‘Aureola’ is a golden-striped form of Hakone grass. It is a rhizomatous, deciduous perennial grass that typically grows in dense spreading clumps to 15” tall and features gracefully arching green leaves variegated with gold longitudinal striping. Yellow-green flowers appear in loose, nodding panicles in mid-summer. Species plants reportedly have better winter hardiness and perform better in full sun exposures than ‘Areola’.


No serious insect or disease problems. Root heaving can be a problem in winter. Leaves may scorch in hot summers, particularly when consistent moisture is not maintained. Deer tend to avoid this plant.

Leaves may scorch in hot summers, particularly when consistent moisture is not maintained.


Excellent spreading ornamental grass for shady locations. Shade groundcover or accent for woodland gardens. Shaded areas of mixed borders. Along paths and walks. Rock gardens. Slopes. Sprawl over rocks. Containers.