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California Oatgrass Seeds (Danthonia californica)

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Original price $8.55 - Original price $8.55
Original price
$8.55 - $8.55
Current price $8.55

An iconic associate of vanishing meadows across the west.

Despite the common name, California oatgrass is an extremely widespread meadow and savannah grass, naturally occurring from the western Rockies to the Pacific Coast, and from Canada southward into South America.

Within this range it has historically been a superbly high-performing wild grass, one that can be:

  • Densely planted and mowed as a wild lawn (withstanding foot traffic very well)
  • Grazed or used for hay
  • Functioning as a flood-, drought-, and fire-tolerant species for challenging conditions -- while staying mostly green for the entire growing season
  • Supporting wildlife, including as a caterpillar host plant for certain butterflies, such as the Lindsey’s skipper (Hesperia lindseyi) and the Columbian skipper (Hesperia columbia)

California oatgrass is a long-lived perennial with fine-leaved foliage that grows in a bunching or clumping form. While the foliage remains only about a foot tall, if left unmowed, the grass will produce 2 feet tall stalks topped by graceful spikelet seedheads. Additionally this grass has the curious and fascinating habitat of sometimes producing cleisttogamous (self-fertilized) seeds that grow within the lower stems of the plant (!). While somewhat diminutive, this rugged plant can produce root systems more than 5-feet in depth, allowing it to persist even in quite dry conditions.

Once commonly and lavishly occurring in west coast oak savannahs, and in western prairies with native fine-leaved fescues, this brilliant grass is in widespread decline, often crowded out by invasive species and poor land management. Even so, it is sometimes the last native plant found in western grassy areas, particularly along hedgerows and forest edges, occupying the precious thin interface between woody vegetation and open ground that has been invaded by more aggressive alien grasses. While it is a sun-loving species (especially in moderate climates), it establishes very well in dappled shade, such as under hardwood trees.

California oatgrass can be tricky to start from seed and sometimes benefits from cold exposure, ample moisture, and, (importantly) light exposure, for effective germination. (We recommend against burying this seed when sowing).

Approximately 1500+ seeds (8 grams) - enough to densely seed approximately 100 to 400 square feet.