One of the tallest grasses, often seen in rural gardens throughout the South. A real conversation piece, thanks to strong, woody stems that can tower to 20 ft. or more. Useful as a windbreak, screen, or vertical accent. In most areas, it dies to the ground in winter but regrows quickly in spring. Flat leaves grow to 2 ft. long and 3 in. wide. In summer, the plant is crowned by greenish or purplish blooms in showy panicles that grow up to 2 ft. long.
Spreads quickly by thick rhizomes and can be invasive in moist soil, a quality that has made it a classic passalong plant (it is easy to dig and divide in spring or fall). Seeds can also travel far and wide on the wind, increasing the plant's chances of spreadingso be careful where you plant it, and don't let it escape to the wild. Cut withered stems to the ground in winter; they make good plant stakes.
A. d. versicolor (A. d. 'Variegata') flaunts leaves with creamy or yellowish stripes. It grows about half as tall as the species and is less likely to bloom (but can be invasive nonetheless).