What is the tallest type of grass?

Grass is everywhere, and it all looks the same from a distance. But you probably do not know that grasses can grow to different heights, meaning you must mow frequently unless it is for ornamental purposes.

Ideally, grasses vary in size from small species that grow between 0.75 inches (1.9 centimeters) and 1.20 inches (3.04 centimeters) to tall grasses that can have heights of over 100 feet (30.48 meters). But what is the tallest type of grass?

When people talk of the tallest grasses, the best examples that come to mind are the bluestems, switchgrasses, and Indian grasses.

These grasses can grow up to eight feet in height. While many people prefer cutting them, the tallest grasses can be ornamental. For this purpose, you should go for the perennial grasses.

In other words, the advantage of tall grasses is that you can use them as screens to provide privacy, accents, or focal points. Furthermore, some grasses add texture and color to your landscape year-round.

Is bamboo the tallest grass?

Bamboo is the tallest grass in the world, with a height of 137.9 feet (42.03 meters). It can also grow to a diameter of one foot (30.48 centimeters).

But since bamboo has wide varieties, the tallest is the dragon bamboo, which measures between 75 and 90 feet on average.

However, if the conditions permit, including rich soil, humid air, and plenty of water or rainfall, it can grow over 100 feet.

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Bamboo grass
Image: Flickr/RobRoy

What are the tallest grasses apart from bamboo?

The environment has many grass species that grow more than two meters tall. Here are seven of the tallest grasses known today.

1. Giant reed grass (Arundo donax)

The giant reed grass (Arundo donax) is the second tallest grass in the world after the bamboo.

On average, the grass can grow to a height of between 12 and 16 feet but can also reach over 20 feet. Furthermore, it is one of the fastest-growing plants, growing at about four inches daily.

Arundo donax "Giant Reed"
Image by: Flickr/David Trevan

The giant reed uses a lot of water to grow. Thus, it is common in wetlands and riparian habitats, including ditches, riversides, and marshlands.

In the USA, the grass is perennial, invasive, and grows well in zones 6-10.

2. Elephant grass (Pennisetum purpureum)

The elephant grass (Pennisetum purpureum) is a tufted perennial grass that can reach up to four meters (13 inches) tall.

It has green leaves with a width of four centimeters (1.6 inches) and a strong midrib. Initially, the elephant grass grew in Africa’s riverbeds and rainforest margins.

Today, the grass grows in many parts of the world and is common in pastures, open woodlands, wastelands, and lakes.

Pennisetum purpureum
Image: Flickr/Keith Bradley

Although people nowadays use it as forage for livestock, the grass can also work as ornamental and structural landscaping.

Furthermore, it can work as a windbreak to protect crops, livestock, wildlife, or people from the wind’s harmful consequences.

3. Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana)

The pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana) is a large perennial grass that can grow to heights of up to ten feet and widths of six feet.

However, the grass requires well-drained soil and full sun to reach its maximum heights, but it can also do well in dappled shade.

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Pampas grass
Image by: Flickr/Jun deCix

The plant is native to Brazil, Argentina, and Chile but is common in USA hardiness zones 6 and 7.

Nowadays, people use Pampas grass for different purposes, mainly decorating. Ideally, you can use it to create a living screen or a border backdrop in your home.

4. Big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii)

The big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) is a perennial warm-season bunchgrass that can grow between six and eight feet tall.

It also has tall roots that extend to ten feet, and its leaf blades range between 0.5 feet (15 centimeters and 2.0 feet (60 centimeters) long.

Big bluestem (Andropogon gerardi)
Image: Flickr/Bluestem

Although it is not the tallest grass in North America, its maximum height is shorter in the northern range and taller in the southern range.

For the plant to thrive well, it requires sandy to loamy soils, preferably in zones 4-9.

5. Giant silvergrass (Miscanthus floridulus)

The giant silvergrass (Miscanthus floridulus) is a perennial grass that grows to a height of up to seven feet (2.11 meters) when matured and can spread to about four feet (1.22 meters).

However, the plant only reaches its maximum height when grown in full to partial shade and moist conditions.

Wind (Miscanthus floridulus)
Image by: Flickr/Liang-hung Ma

The giant silvergrass is also the tallest privacy grass to grow at home. It has enormous silvery-tinged plumes of rose flowers rising above the foliage in late summer.

The plumes are perfect for hiding fences but require you to grow them at least four feet apart.

6. Frost grass (Spodiopogon sibiricus)

The Frost grass (Spodiopogon sibiricus) is a perennial ornamental grass that grows to five feet (152 centimeters) tall.

When matured, the grass displays purplish or wine tints, and its flowers grow up to four inches wide. But the plant requires moist, well-drained, and fertile soil in full sun or partial shade for the plant to grow well.

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Spodiopogon sibiricus
Image by: Flickr/JardinsLeeds

Thus, the plant is hardy in zones 4-9. Furthermore, it can work well at home as an accent or border.

7. Ravenna grass (Saccharum ravennae)

The Ravenna grass may not be the tallest and fastest-growing grass, but it is the best for achieving beauty in a compound.

The plant is big and bold and can grow between eight (2.4 meters) and twelve feet (3.7 meters) tall. As a warm-season grass, Ravenna grows well in sunny, fertile, moist, and well-drained soil, hence common in zones 6-9.

Ravenna grass

Nowadays, people use the plant as ornamental grass in gardens and for stabilizing soil to prevent erosion.

Conclusion

The tallest type of grass worldwide is the dragon bamboo, with 137.9 feet tall. Other grasses over two meters tall are elephant grass, pampas grass, big bluestem, giant silver grass, frost grass, and Ravenna grass.

Depending on your location, you can use these grasses as accents, screens, or focal points. Furthermore, the grasses can add texture and color to your compound year-round.

However, the grasses require the right growing conditions to achieve maximum heights.

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