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It can be tricky finding ground covers for those partially shaded areas below and around pine trees, where the dropped needles pile up and the soil dries way down during the summer months. Field wood-rush seems to have that niche figured out. This little plant spreads to form dense colonies of short bunches of wide, grass-like leaves. It sports very fashionable little flower heads in the spring, which dry to tawny spiky clusters. Bonus: the leaves often turn reddish in the fall for that extra visual interest.

 

Now when I say below trees, I'm not talking about the deep shade beneath your Norway maple or spruce. I'm referring to a brighter shade, say below a tall pine, where the sun hits sporadically throughout the day. Plants in full sign might want a little more water, but overall I've found this species to be adaptable and tough. As with most of our plants, height and rate of spread will depend on light and water conditions.

 

This plant thrives naturally with pinegrass, elk sedge, heartleaf arnica, twin arnica, field chickweed, and other open forest plants.

field wood-rush

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  • Luzula campestris

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