Sunday, March 4, 2012

Deschampsia elongata

Slender hair grass (Deschampsia elongata) with green seedheads in May
Slender hair grass (Deschampsia elongata) is a native California grass. It showed up in the yard after I trimmed back the ancient rose bushes to paint the garage.

Native bee in the hair grass
I love its delicate drooping seedheads. I often find native bees like the one in this photo in this bed which has a mix of native plants creeping in under the rose brambles.

Tufts of slender hair grass in March
Although slender hair grass is a perennial, it greens up this time of year, and where it was cut or browsed the previous year, it forms these dense green tufts.

New green shoots pushing through the brown in early spring.
It mostly turns brown in the dry summer which would ordinarily make it an unattractive landscape plant. Sometimes I clip back the brown blades but mostly I don't have time. Even when it looks unkept, I smile when I walk by because its humble stature reminds me of how sweet it looks in the spring and early summer, and what an exciting surprise it has been to see it pop up and slowly occupy its own corner of the rose bed. Its seedheads droop over the concrete steps onto the spot where old Paul once etched his name. I wonder if this grass was here when Paul lived here, and if he noticed it, or just considered it a weed to pull out of Lola's roses.

A sinkful of hair grass transplants.
Some of the hair grass has now spread into the driveway that was graded and rerocked last year, so I popped them into pots.  I'm thinking about planting them at a house I manage in San Jose.  The tenants there won't have the same association with this plant that I do, so they might not like it. I will probably try it anyway, I am so under the spell of this plant (and its clever scheme to spread to other rose beds).

Slender hair grass growing in rock wall.
I occasionally see slender hair grass in natural areas in bright spots of semi-shady forests, but it usually seems to occupy just a small space.


  1. I was waiting to see if you got any comments on this native grass. For the most part, I haven't considered grasses sexy or exciting, but they are extremely important in the native CA landscape.

    My main purpose to comment here is so I have a record to reference if I ever get advanced enough to ID native grasses. Maybe you could choose to embed comments vs. pop-up window and remove your CAPTCHA so that those of us who like to keep records can?

  2. Katie: touch grasses and it will eventually make identification easier. I don't understand your comment about CAPTCHA here, although I saw your discussion on your blogsite. I will look into it some more. Thanks for the heads-up on that.


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