The Plant

Esparto grass, Stipa Tenacissima

Years ago a Spanish friend told me what impressed him so much about the Netherlands. Literally translated he said “What I find so beautiful about the Netherlands are those small green plants you have so many of.” For several days I thought about which plants he might have meant, then suddenly I realised – he meant nothing else than grass. Our green grass pastures were what he found so impressive.

Something similar happened to me in the south of Spain. I´m impressed by those vast dry and empty mountains. The struggle fought there to survive as a plant or an animal. And even here grass grows. Not those small green plants but long rough yellow fibres. Tough Spanish prairie grass that survives with nothing and even propagates.

This type of prairie grass, known in Spanish as “esparto” (in Latin “Stipa Tenacissima”) is found within Europe only in the south of Spain and Portugal and in the Balearic Islands. It also grows in some parts of North Africa. The plant can be recognised as a big bundle of leaves which are very fine and long radiating from one central point. One leaf can grow up to 60 cm long and has a diameter of 1 to 2 mm. It flowers from March to June with a cream colour feather coming straight out of the plant.