Sporobolus heterolepis 'Morning Mist'

Common Name: prairie dropseed 
Type: Ornamental grass
Family: Poaceae
Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 1.50 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 2.50 feet
Bloom Time: August to October
Bloom Description: Pale brown
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Good Fall
Attracts: Birds
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought, Clay Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil, Black Walnut


Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates wide range of soils, including heavy clays. Prefers dry, rocky soils. Good drought tolerance. Slow-growing and slow to establish. May be grown from seed but does not freely self-seed in the garden.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Sporobolus heterolepis, called prairie dropseed, is a clump-forming, warm season, Missouri native perennial grass which typically occurs in prairies, glades, open ground and along railroads throughout much of the State (Steyermark). This is a prairie grass that is native from Quebec to Saskatchewan south to Colorado, Texas and Connecticut. Fine-textured, hair-like, medium green leaves (to 20” long and 1/16” wide) typically form an arching foliage mound to 15” tall and 18” wide. Foliage turns golden with orange hues in fall, fading to light bronze in winter. Open, branching flower panicles appear on slender stems which rise well above the foliage clump in late summer to 30-36" tall. Flowers have pink and brown tints, but are perhaps most noted for their unique fragrance (hints of coriander). Tiny rounded mature seeds drop to the ground from their hulls in autumn giving rise to the descriptive common name.

The genus name Sporobolus comes from the Ancient Greek sporos meaning "seed" and ballo meaning "to throw", in reference to how easily the ripe seeds are released.

Specific epithet means diversely scaled.

'Morning Mist' features upright, red, flowering culms (stems) which bear airy panicles with gently arching, fine foliage. Mature clumps will reach around 1.5-2' tall and 2-2.5' wide. The 2-3' long flowering culms rise above the foliage clumps at a uniform height and tend to stay upright rather than drooping as the seed ripens. The leaves turn golden yellow in fall. This plant is protected by patent number PP14344.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Ground cover for hot, dry areas. Prairies, meadows, native plant gardens, wild areas or slopes. Also effective in large rock gardens. Accent for foundation plantings or borders.