Fox, bobcat, or squirrel, you can choose any of these animals as a member of your plant zoo depending on how you see the showy, fluffy seedheads of this cool season perennial grass. The plant goes by several names including foxtail barley, bobtail barley, and squirrel tail grass or barley and is a well-known native throughout the US except in the Southeast where the weather is too hot for it. In late spring to early summer leafy clumps produce flowerheads on a nodding spike 2-5″ long. They are green with reddish or purplish tints before becoming tan and brittle, resembling an animal tail. After you enjoy the “tails” in the garden, use them in dried arrangements. Foxtail barley is very tolerant of of salt and alkaline conditions and grows well in a variety of sites including edges of marshes, muddy borders, river beds, meadows, prairies , fields, pastures, vacant lots, roadsides, edges of railroad tracts, mined land, and waste areas. Although short-lived, foxtail barley produces a prolific amount of seed that lasts in the soil for up to 5 years. Yes, it can become invasive so watch it carefully.
Type: Short-lived cool season perennial grass
Bloom Color: Tan
Bloom Time: Late spring into summer
Soil: Average, medium moist to wet; tolerates saline and alkaline conditions
Hardiness Zones: 4-10
Photo Credit: Wikipedia