The Story of ‘Ichu’

In the Spring of 2016 I made a trip to Peru to visit my cousin who is a missionary in Arequipa, Peru. He arranged for me to visit all the tourist sites in Peru including a bus trip up into the high Andes.

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These mountains are over 22,000 feet high

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In the valleys between these mountains live the llamas at elevations of around 15,000 feet.

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Our guide told us that the llamas eat this grass called "Ichu"

'Ichu' is also used as a roofing material for the Peruvian houses in the high country

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The Peruvian government gives these Peruvian people a license to care for these animals to make sure they have plenty to eat and are protected from the wild animals.  In return the people are allowed to shear the animals of their fur and sell it or make clothing from it.  They make very beautiful sweaters from the wool which they sell to the tourists for $40 each.  These sweaters sell for over $500 in the United States.

 

When I came back to the United States I was at a nursery looking for some grasses to plant in my garden and the nursery woman told me of a new grass called Peruvian Feather Grass (Stipa 'Ichu').  It looked like a grass that I already had called the Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella tenuissima).  Here are some pictures of what the Mexican Feather Grass looks like in Dawn Gardens:

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The Mexican Feather Grass has a very billowy form with lots of tan seed heads.  The problem with this grass is that it reseeds everywhere unless you cut it back before the seeds mature.  The nursery woman said that Stipa 'Ichu' does not reseed as much but it looks very much the same except the seed heads are more of a white color.  I decided to remove the Mexican Feather Grass and plant 300 Peruvian Feather Grass, Stipa 'Ichu' in the same place.

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I purchased the 'Ichu' in 4" pots which come 16 to a flat.


I laid them out about 24" apart and had Vicente plant them.
This is what they look like after planting. This photo was taken in February.  Over the next year I will update this post with new pictures of how 'Ichu' is doing.

 

The above photo and video were taken in June.

The above photo and video were taken mid-July.

The Ichu makes a river of white through the grass garden.

A gentle breeze makes the Ichu flow like an ocean wave.

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