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Purple needle grass

Nassella pulchra


Purple needle grass is the state grass of California. It is a distinctive clumping grass with fine textured foliage growing 18-24 in. tall with upright inflorescences growing to 3 ft. tall. Nodding seed awns move gracefully in the wind and have a distinctive purple color in early spring before fading to a light wheat color.

Over the years, several preserves and restoration projects have been implemented across California in an effort to reestablish this grass and illustrate its habitat value. It can be successfully grown in both large and small scale plantings and can survive in natural areas with winter rainfall. Like other native needle grasses, summer watering is not recommended during its season of dormancy. It is grown in garden situations with other native grasses, wildflowers and perennials where it adds a delicate and elegant touch to the plantings.

Plant Type: Grass, Native
Foliage Character: Drought deciduous
Habit: Upright, Graceful, Delicate, Clumping
Growth Rate: Fast
Foliage Color: Light green
Flower Color: Purple, Tan
Flower Season: Summer, Spring
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil, Clay
Exposure Adaptations: Drought, All day sun
Function: Attracts butterflies, Wildlife value, Small spaces, Restoration, Mass planting, Flowering accent plant, Container plant
Height: 18 in. – 24 in.
Width: 18 in. – 30 in.

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