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.
These mountains are over 22,000 feet high.
In the valleys between these mountains live the llamas at elevations of around 15,000 feet.
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.
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 called the Mexican Feather Grass (Stipa tenuissima). I told her that I just saw Ichu in its native habitat in Peru. Here are some pictures of what the Mexican Feather Grass looks like in Dawn Gardens: