Sometimes the common name for a species is straightforward and descriptive. Today’s featured species is (in English) golden hair grass.
Although native to Chile and Argentina, there are few (English) references to where precisely it can be found and in what habitat. The original publication of the name (as Piptochaetium laevissimum) refers to Chile’s Colchagua Province, one of three provinces within the O’Higgins Region. Fortunately, this gives a clue to the habitat; the O’Higgins Region is “known as the “huaso province” after the name of the Chilean cowboy, the huaso”. This suggests warm, dry grasslands as the preferred habitat, which seems to be in agreement with this document detailing Habitats of South America (from page 135, and as the now-synonym Stipa laevissima):
34.4–Juan Fernandez grasslands–Native grasslands of the lower, drier, altitudes of the Juan Fernandez Islands, dominated by Stipa laevissima and Stipa neesiana, accompanied by grasses of genera Nassella and Piptochaetum and by sedges, today much transformed. (Skottsberg, 1953a: 919-921, 948-949; Cabrera and Willink, 1980: 104; Gajardo, 1994; region 5B).
One long-time challenge for those interested in grasses was that there was much confusion about some of the larger groups. For example, there are approximately 116 species in Nassella now recognized. Fortunately, people like Dr. Mary Barkworth and her students have tackled this group of grasses in recent years, leading to papers such as the one referenced in the first link in this paragraph. Another boon to agrostologists (people who study grasses) was the development of GrassBase (entry on Nassella laevissima).
As shown in today’s photograph, golden hair grass is highly ornamental in warm, dry climates. It is seemingly non-invasive so far, unlike some of its relatives (e.g., Nassella tenuissima or Mexican feather-grass in some regions of California).