State Grass

Purple Needlegrass

Nassella pulchra

California chose a valuable native grass for its State Grass: purple needlegrass.  It grows from the Oregon border to Baja California and can live for 100 years and more. This 2-3 foot tall native bunchgrass has 2-6 feet deep roots. It is drought and heat tolerant, grows in poor soil, and burns slowly. This makes it a valuable plant for habitat restoration, erosion control and stabilizing levees and hillsides. The indigenous population of California used this grass for food and making baskets and benefited from the animals that fed on it. Later immigrants depended on this grass to feed livestock and wildlife.

Purple needlegrass helps the survival of young oak trees and provides food for over 330 species. It is the most widespread native bunchgrass, and once established, helps repel invasive weeds.

(Senate Bill 1226, 2004)

Explore our State Symbols