FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Deschampsia cespitosa ‘Goldtau’ is a clump forming perennial grass cultivar. The tufted foliage is narrow, dark green and usually semi-evergreen. Airy panicles of chartreuse yellow florets with hair like awns appear in summer. They mature into a bronzy-gold color and remain until frost. This cool season grass thrives in shaded or partly sunny moist or wet sites.
HABITAT & HARDINESS: The parent species, Deschampsia cespitosa, occurs in Canada and the United States. Plants are absent from the central United States from Nebraska and Iowa to Texas and Louisiana and are also absent from most of the Southeastern United States.
This species is indigenous to cool damp habitats including estuaries, moist mountain meadows, calcareous wetlands, seeps, floodplain forests, pond and stream margins and marshy grasslands.
The ‘Goldtau’ cultivar is notable for its low compact habit, dark green foliage, later and longer blooming time and colorful golden flowerheads.
This grass is hardy from USDA Zones 3-8.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: Deschampsia cespitosa ‘Goldtau’ is cool season bunchgrass cultivar with a low mounding habit.
Leaves are linear, arching and semi-evergreen. They are borne in dense dark green tussocks.
Attractive florets with hair-like awns are displayed above the foliage in loose openly branched panicles. The florets are yellowish to chartreuse when young becoming bronze or golden with age.
The panicles have a light airy quality. They refract the late afternoon light beautifully even after the florets transition into seed. The flower and fruit display is striking through summer and into winter.
Plants attain 1-2’ height with 2’ spread.
CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: Deschampsia cespitosa ‘Goldtau’ prospers in partly sunny sites with moist acid humus rich soils.
‘Goldtau’ performs best in cool climates. In warmer areas, plants must be sited in moist shaded sites and the flower display may be diminished.
This cultivar tolerates a variety of moisture regimes including well drained soils and sites with seasonal flooding. Plants endure short periods of drought but not long term flooding and are said to tolerate hot dry sites if abundantly irrigated.
In garden situations, old foliage and seed stalks can be cut to the ground in late winter to provide a blank slate for fresh new growth. It is reported that this cultivar rarely self-seeds.
In appropriate sites with cool temperatures and ample moisture, ‘Goldtau’ is pest resistant. Plants are not palatable to deer and other herbivores.
LANDSCAPE USES: Deschampsia cespitosa ‘Goldtau’ has delightful airy flower panicles that allow it to serve as a lovely Accent, Grouping or Mass. Plants provide Erosion Control and offer Showy Flowers, Attractive Seedheads and Winter Interest. ‘Goldtau’ provides lovely Cut Flowers and is appropriate for Low Maintenance Plantings, Meadow Gardens, Perennial Borders, margins of Water Gardens, Rain Gardens, Rock Gardens and Shade Gardens.
COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: Try pairing Deschampsia cespitosa ‘Goldtau’ with Carex radiata, Chasmanthium latifolium, Eupatorium coelestinum or Rudbeckia laciniata. The low mounding habit of this cultivar make it an ideal choice to plant in the foreground to camouflage the bare lower stems that often occur on Phlox paniculata, Monarda didyma and Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'
If a substitute is needed, Deschampsia cespitosa would be a suitable replacement.
TRIVIA: ‘Goldtau’ means “golden dew” and refers to the golden color of the mature inflorescences.