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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.)
California Native (Plant List): Yes
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. 

This information about Danthonia californica displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.