Don't cry for me Argentina
The truth is I never left you
All through my wild days
My mad existence
I kept my promise
Don't keep your distance
Evita, 1978. Frank Lloyd Weber/Tim Rice
I wonder if there are many homesick Argentines in my neighborhood? I wonder if they miss the flora of their homeland so much that they have attempted to grow some of their native plants here in the urban landscape of Seattle? I wonder if plants really do get lonely and if that's why people always plant things in twos or threes or fours? Inquiring minds want to know. Okay, maybe I'm the only one who wants to know.
Allow me to introduce cortaderia selloana.
This is a magnificent, noble, graceful plant. Definitely a jaw dropping, head turning, show-stopping, car accident causing, WOW! type of plant. For me this is an iconic grass species of Argentina. Alas, no, the above picture was not taken on a recent family trip to South America in search of fodder for our blog. I wish it were so, but sadly it is not. These two beautiful specimens, along with about a dozen others, are to be found right in our neighborhood.
Cortaderia selloana is commonly known as pampas grass. Before I knew better, I thought it was "pompous" grass. Granted, this is definitely grass with attitude. "Pampas," from the Quechua language, means "plains." The pampas are the fertile lowlands of South America extending from Argentina to Uruguay and the southernmost part of Brazil. Cortaderia selloana grows to a height of 12' and a spread of 8'. The leaves are only 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch wide but can be as long as 6' and the edges of the leaves are very sharp, sharp enough to cut. Cortaderia selloana is often confused with cortaderia jubata. According to the ANR database at UC Davis' website, the latter differs in its ability to produce viable seeds--over a million in a plant's lifetime--while the former does not produce viable seeds as most plants are female and only those with working male parts can produce viable seeds. However nurseries have been propagating these plants to have more working male parts.