Native to moist places from the British Isles to Siberia, south to the Caucasus and Turkey; resents dry, alkaline conditions. Long lived but slow growing, taking several years to reach full size. Erect, narrow, light green leaves form a neat, dense clump. In summer, spikelike clusters of yellowish to purplish flowers rise above clump; they age to tan and last well into fall. Wispy flowers give clump a see-through quality. Good cut flowers. In late fall, both leaves and flower clusters detach from plant's base, leaving nothing visible above ground. Set out new plantings in spring. There are two forms of moor grass, each with several selections. They bloom better in the Upper and Middle South.
M. c. arundinacea. TALL MOOR GRASS. Broader, gray-green leaves form a clump 23 ft. high and wide. Flowering stems are 58 ft. tall; they arch to the ground when wet, then straighten up as they dry. Give this one space so you can enjoy its form and motion in the wind. Among its forms are old favorite 'Karl Foerster', still one of the best; it has arching, 212-ft.-long leaves and semierect flower stalks to 7 ft. tall. 'Skyracer' has erect, 3-ft.-tall leaves and 7- to 8-ft. stems bearing yellow flowers that sparkle with morning dew. The arching, 6-ft.-tall stems of 'Transparent' have a translucent section between highest leaf and beginning of flower spike; plant bears tiny, airy blossoms and has bright orange-yellow fall foliage. 'Windspiel' ('Windplay') has wiry, vertical, 7- to 8-ft.-tall stems that sway with the slightest breeze.
M. c. caerulea. PURPLE MOOR GRASS. Produces a leafy clump 12 ft. high and wide; flower stalks are 23 ft. tall. 'Moorflamme' ('Moor Flame') has airy, purple-tinged flower heads held 2 ft. above the foliage, good red-orange autumn foliage color. 'Variegata' has leaves broadly edged in creamy white; yellowish flower stems arch out in all directions, giving a perfect fountain effect.