Stipa pulchra

Purple needle grass

Plant Type: Grass
Sun: Partial Shade, Sun
Drainage: Adaptable
Water: Occasional
Height X Width: 2' X 1'
Santa Clara County Local: Yes
What do these mean?



Purple needle grass is widespread in California, growing in a wide range of habitats in coastal mountains, the Central Valley and the lower foothills of the Sierra Nevada. It was designated the state grass of California in 2004. It grows as an expanding clump of arching blades to about two feet tall. The seed stocks rise above the foliage in spring. The developing seeds are tinted purple and have long “tails” (awns) that give the grass a misty appearance, especially when several are growing together. Following the maturation of the seeds in early summer, this grass naturally goes dormant. The blades will go largely brown, though some green will remain in the center. The plant may be cut back at this point if the summer appearance is unappealing. One of the interesting things about needle grass - and many native bunch grasses for that matter - is that they develop a very dense network of roots that extend beyond the plant in all directions. This allows a mature plant to exclude annual plants that simply can’t get a foothold. When one encounters a native stand of needle grass, each plant will be offset from its neighboring needle grass by a foot or so, with little growing in between.


Deer Resistant: Yes
Attractive to Bees: No
Attractive to Butterflies: No
Good Under Oaks: Yes
Evergreen or Deciduous: Evergreen