Hakonechloa macra 'Nicolas'

Common Name: Japanese forest grass 
Type: Ornamental grass
Family: Poaceae
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to August
Bloom Description: Yellow-green
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful, Good Fall
Tolerate: 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. Plant foliage will burn in full sun locations. Plant foliage will 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. Propagation is easiest by division. Species plants (not cultivars thereof) may be grown by seed.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Hakonechloa macra, commonly called 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.

'Nicholas' is a more compact cultivar featuring attractive solid green leaves in spring and summer followed by a blast of showy orange and red fall color as temperatures dip. It typically grows to 8-16" tall and will spread over time to 16-22" wide. Yellow-green flowers bloom in loose, airy panicles (to 4" long) above the foliage in mid- to late summer. Flowers have a delicate beauty on close inspection, but are not particularly showy from a distance. 'Nicholas' was discovered in 2003 as a naturally occurring whole plant mutation (parents unknown) in a cultivated trial garden in Min Rungis Cedex, France. U.S. Plant Patent PP19,898 was issued April 7, 2009.


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.

Garden Uses

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.

Locate in areas where the outstanding fall color can be appreciated.