Plant of the Week: Blonde Ambition Mosquito Grass

Photo by Friends of the High Line

The High Line’s planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew up between rail tracks after the trains stopped running in the 1980s. Today, the High Line includes more than 300 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees – each chosen for their hardiness, adaptability, diversity, and seasonal variation in color and texture. Some of the species that originally grew on the High Line’s rail bed are reflected in the park landscape today.

This week we share one of our gardeners’ current favorites with you.

Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition' is one of three kinds of Bouteloua – commonly known as grama grasses – growing on the High Line. The cultivar 'Blonde Ambition,' a new addition to the park, is taller than the straight species and produces chartreuse, rather than purple, flowers. It was selected and introduced by David Salman of High Country Gardens. Bouteloua gracilis is native to western North America from Alberta east to Manitoba and south through the Rocky Mountains, Great Plains, and Mexico. This grass thrives at a broad range of elevations. In prairies it functions as an important soil builder. Due to its adaptability, Bouteloua gracilis is often recommended for reclamation use and erosion control in addition to ornamental landscaping. This grass also provides nesting cover for pheasants, quail, and songbirds. The seeds are an important food source for some birds and mammals.

Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition' tolerates drought, shallow soil, air pollution, and extreme cold. It reaches a height of about 2.5 feet, but can also be mowed for use as a turf grass. Finely textured bluish foliage nicely offsets the chartreuse flowers blooming between June and August. The nearly horizontal flower spikes and seed heads appear to hover, creating the impression of a cloud of insects. For this reason, it is sometimes called mosquito grass. Blonde Ambition mosquito grass holds onto its broom-like seed heads into the winter, making a beautiful display at a time when many ornamentals do not look their best.

WHERE TO SEE THIS PLANT

Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition' can be found On the High Line at 30th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues.

Download our November bloom list.

Our horticultural team counts on members and friends like you to help keep the High Line beautiful and thriving. Join our community of supporters who play an essential role in the High Line’s most important gardening projects – become a member of Friends of the High Line today!

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