Revitalizing nature is a core focus of the Commons and across Hermann Park. In the Commons site, there are now over seven acres of native grass areas, a 100% increase in rich habitat from the dirt and turf that existed before the renovation. Important components of Hermann Park, these native grasses that average three feet tall naturally improve the ecological process.

Left alone, without mowing or disturbance, these hardworking grasses have deep root systems that help rebuild the soil, absorb rainwater and prevent erosion. They increase carbon sequestration and provide biodiversity for wildlife—all benefits critical to healthy ecosystems and communities. These grasses are also generally drought tolerant and low maintenance, making them remarkable additions to any private or public space.

The native grass habitat areas in the Commons, also known as prairie gardens, include species once part of a larger Gulf Coast prairie ecosystem that are now endangered. Below are some fun facts about the different grasses you can find throughout Hermann Park.

Little Bluestem

Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium): This native prairie grass is recognizable by its blue-green leaf color and can grow up to three feet in height. It is excellent to plant among other prairie grasses and flowers, and it boasts amazing color throughout the year, including a beautiful reddish hue in autumn. Bluestem excels in dry soil and both direct sun and shade. This grass was selected for the Park to showcase a wonderful, beneficial plant that can easily be grown in your own backyard. Additionally, skipper butterflies love this grass, and we have seen many visiting in the Commons!

Sideoats Grama

Sideoats Grama (Bouteloua curtipendula): The official state grass of Texas, Sideoats Grama has distinctive oat-like seeds that hang along its stalk. These grasses have beautiful flowers in the summer months. This grass is very drought tolerant and has the ability to grow in most soil types, while enjoying full sun and some shade – making it another wonderful grass option to consider adding to your own yard. Sideoats Grama is a larval host plant for many species of skipper butterflies and moths.

Inland Seaoats

Inland Seaoats (Chasmanthium latifolium): Inland Seaoats are an attractive, dense-covering shade grass, distinguishable by its decorative seed heads.  It turns from blue-green to ivory to soft brown throughout the year. This aggressive growing grass is highly useful for preventing soil erosion. Loved by butterflies and animals who eat the seeds, this grass can be found in the shadier habitat areas of the Commons and throughout Hermann Park.


Purpletop (Triden flavus): A native ornamental warm-season grass, Purpletop has distinctive reddish-purple seed heads that last from summer to fall. These seeds are an important food source for many birds and animals, and it is a larval host for various butterfly and moth species. This grass can grow from three to five feet tall and up to three feet wide, and it is particularly drought tolerant, enjoying dry soil and full sun with dappled shade. Because of its low growth and shade tolerance, Purpletop is a great grass to also consider if building your own prairie garden.

Green Sprangletop

Green Sprangletop (Leptochloa dubia): This is a warm-season perennial bunchgrass with fibrous roots and a blueish-green to dark green color. It can grow up to three feet in height. Its blooming season lasts from May through November, and it enjoys mostly full sun with partial shade. This grass is excellent at erosion prevention and assisting in the establishment of other native grasses. Green Sprangletop is a pioneer species often used in seed mixes and is particularly useful for reclamation projects, like what has taken place in the Commons. This grass is also well-loved by skipper butterflies and moths.

Hooded Windmill

Hooded Windmill (Chloris cucullata): This interesting bunchgrass is named for Chloris, the Greek goddess of flowers, and it is often associated with new spring growth. Native to Texas, this grass grows up to two feet in height and produces blossoms from May through October. Hooded Windmill is an early successional plant, making it an ideal grass for restoration planting. Different from some of the other native grasses through the space, Hooded Windmill enjoys moist soil and full or partial sun. It is a grass loved by pollinator insects like butterflies and bees, as well as snakes and turtles.