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Products > Danthonia californica
Danthonia californica - California Oatgrass

Note: This plant is not currently for sale. This is an archive page preserved for informational use.  

Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Grass
Family: Poaceae (Gramineae) (Grasses)
Origin: California (U.S.A.)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Tan
Bloomtime: Spring
Height: 1-3 feet
Width: 1-2 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Summer Dry: Yes
Deer Tolerant: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: < 0 °F
Danthonia californica (California Oatgrass) - A clumping nearly evergreen native perennial bunch grass with a dense tuft of short flattened green leaves 4 to 10 inches tall and tall slender stalks 2 to 3 feet tall bearing a few (1-5) spiklets holding 3-8 florets with reddish-purple protruding anthers. Plant in full sun to moderate shade and water regularly, occasionally to very little. It tolerates a wide range of temperatures; from the heat of the desert to well below freezing (-30°F) and is drought-stressed deciduous. California Oat Grass comes from generally moist, open sites and shaded glens in meadows and forests across a wide range of western coastal regions of North America from elevations of 500ft-7000ft. In California, where it can be found along the coast from Ventura County north to Canada and in the inland mountain ranges from the Peninsular Range in San Diego county north along the western edge of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges. It is also found in Chile in South America. It is an important dominant component of coastal prairies and is known to tolerate regularly disturbed ecosystems as a colonizing species - this makes it particularly useful as a garden plant! To range managers it is known as a an "ice-cream plant" because of its palatability to livestock. This speaks to its durability, tolerating trampling and traffic and little to regular irrigation. There is a great article in the June 2009 issue of Pacific Horticulture showing this grass used in a mixed meadow at Sea Ranch titled A Wind-blown Garden on a Sea Ranch Bluff. The name for the genus honors Étienne Danthoine, a late 18th century to early 19th century French botanist and agrostologist from Marseilles who had written articles on grasses.  The information on this page is based on our research conducted in our nursery library, from online sources, as well as from observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery containers, in the nursery's garden and in other gardens where we have observed it. We will also incorporate comments received from others and welcome getting feedback of any kind from those who have additional information, particularly if this information is contrary to what we have written or includes additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing  Danthonia californica.