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Home arrow The Daily Dirt arrow Monday Melange: Deer Grass
Monday Melange: Deer Grass Print E-mail
Written by Heleigh Bostwick    Monday, 01 August 2016
Deer Grass Deer grass, with its gracefully arching grayish-green leaves and tall yellow to purple flower spikes, is a native grass alternative to the invasive pampass grass. Deer Grass

Deer grass (Muhlenbergia rigens), sometimes called Prairie Gramma, is native to the southwestern states of California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and into Mexico. Hardy between USDA zones 6 and 9, it is a member of the Grass family (Poaceae), and will thrive in many mid-western states as well.

Despite what its name suggests, deer grass is not eaten by deer, but is used by female deer to shelter their newborn offspring under cover of the gracefully arching grayish-green leaves of the 2 to 4 foot high grass. In contrast, the flower spikes, which are yellow to purple in color and are 4 to 6 feet tall, stand straight up, providing visual interest in the landscape throughout the fall and winter.

Deer grass thrives in full sun and dry conditions and is an excellent native plant to substitute for the non-native and often invasive pampass grass (Cortaderia selloana). Considered a Xeriscape plant, deer grass can be used in mass plantings, as a specimen, as an informal hedge, mixed with wildflowers, or on slopes and dry streambeds or gullies to prevent erosion. It is a fast growing evergreen grass that benefits from mowing every couple of years. It can be grown from seed during warmer months; however, selective hand seeding works best as opposed to broadcast seeding.

The dried leaves of deer grass are used by California Indians to make beautiful baskets. Read More

Photo source: C. Martus, www.cal-ipc.org