Plant of the Week: Purple love grass

One of our more subtle grasses, Eragrostis spectabilis, has reached its prime season on the High Line. At 12 to 18 inches tall, this clump-forming perennial grass tends to be an inconspicuous presence in the garden until it begins to flower in August when its splayed red to purple inflorescences pronounce its whereabouts.

Photo by Ayinde Listhrop

Purple love grass, as it is commonly called, is frequently found among the tapers of the High Line's paths as it does well in dry, disturbed soils. A prolific self-sower, it is native to North America from Maine to Mexico and even parts of Central America.

Its common name aptly reflects its genus (Eragrostis) as eros means love, and agrostis means grass. A close relative, Eragrostis tef, is an ever more popular nutritional grain and a staple of the Ethiopian diet, the flour from which is used in the making of injera.


Due to its somewhat weedy look in spring and early summer, our gardeners like to "tuck it in" to places where it doesn't disrupt the look of a well-maintained garden until its flowers billow up in August.


Eragrostis spectabilis can be found in the 10th Avenue square above 16th Street and in the Chelsea Grasslands between 18th and 20th Streets.

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 500 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. Every week we share one of our gardeners' current favorites with you.

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.

TD Bank is the Presenting Green Sponsor of the High Line.

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