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Nassella

Needle Grass
Poaceae (Gramineae)
Ornamental grasses and grasslike plants

These needle grasses were once included in Stipa. All are clump formers characterized by long awns—needlelike or threadlike appendages that give a feathery look to the inflorescence. The  California natives look much alike; all are useful for revegetation of wild areas, for stabilizing soil, and for restoring natural meadows. They can be started from seed. Clear area of weeds and other grasses first; Nassella species can self-sow once established, but initially they cannot compete with other vegetation.

All these needle grasses are cool-season growers that go dormant during hot, dry summers, reviving with cooler autumn weather and rains.

Nassella pulchra

The classic native California bunch grass, growing about 3 ft. tall and 2 ft. wide. Blooms in late winter and early spring, with ears producing 4-in. awns (bristles) that age to silver.

Nassella tenuissima
Nassella tenuissima

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Nassella tenuissima

Native to Texas, New Mexico, Mexico. Among finest textured and most billowy looking of all ornamental grasses. To 2 ft. tall, 2 to 3 ft. wide, with thread-like bright green leaves. In summer, produces very thin flowering stems that arch outward and downward, ending in a cloud of silvery green, 3-in. awns that age to a light straw color and remain attractive into winter. Stays green where summers are cooler.

Thrives with little to regular water. Can self-sow in well-irrigated gardens; to prevent, cut plants back before seeds ripen.

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