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Nassella pulchra (Purple Needle Grass)

Purple Needle Grass, Purple Stipa, Purple Tussock Grass, Stipa pulchra

Nassella pulchra, Purple Needle Grass, Purple Stipa, Purple Tussock Grass, Stipa pulchra
Nassella pulchra, Purple Needle Grass, Purple Stipa, Purple Tussock Grass, Stipa pulchra

The state grass of California, Nassella pulchra (Purple Needle Grass) is a densely tufted, upright perennial bunchgrass with smooth to finely hairy, long green leaves. In early to mid-summer, it boasts conspicuously long, twice-bent awns, up to 4 in. long (10 cm), that extend from the tip of each of the flowers. Starting out purple, the nodding seed awns fade to a light wheat color and sway gracefully in the slightest breeze. The plant becomes dormant after seed production, turning golden, but begins growth again with cooler fall weather and rains. Purple Needle Grass is highly valued as an erosion control grass due to its longevity, tolerance to poor soil conditions, and its ability to establish a deep root system on disturbed sites with low soil fertility. It is also a valuable forage species that provides food for deer, elk, and other wildlife. Purple Needle Grass is an excellent native grass for use in low-water landscaping. Fire tolerant, it mixes beautifully with other native grasses, wildflowers, and perennials to create delicate and elegantly mobile combinations.

  • Grows up to 24-36 in. tall (60-90 cm) and 18-30 in. wide (45-75 cm). Tends to self-sow under favorable conditions.
  • Performs best in full sun to part shade in dry, well-drained soils. It is well adapted to droughty soils, clays, and serpentine soils. It is tolerant of extreme summer heat and drought. Established plants require no summer water.
  • A graceful perennial grass for cottage gardens, prairies, and meadows thanks to its ability to self-sow. Excellent as a groundcover.
  • Generally pest and disease free.
  • Propagate by seed. 
  • Native to California.

Requirements

Hardiness 7 - 11
Climate Zones 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Ornamental Grasses
Plant Family Poaceae
Genus Stipa
Common names Purple Needle Grass
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Late)
Summer (Early, Mid)
Height 2' - 3'
(60cm - 90cm)
Spread 1' - 3'
(30cm - 90cm)
Spacing 18" - 30"
(50cm - 80cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Evergreen
Native Plants United States, California
Tolerance Drought
Garden Uses Beds And Borders, Ground Covers
Garden Styles Prairie and Meadow, Informal and Cottage
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Stipa (Feather Grass)
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Alternative Plants to Consider

Stipa ichu (Peruvian Feather Grass)
Stipa barbata (Silver Feather Grass)
Stipa tenuissima (Mexican Feather Grass)
Stipa calamagrostis (Spear Grass)
Stipa gigantea (Golden Oats)
Anemanthele lessoniana (New Zealand Wind Grass)

Recommended Companion Plants

Erigeron glaucus (Seaside Daisy)
Mimulus aurantiacus (Bush Monkey Flower)
Gaultheria shallon (Shallon)
Salvia mellifera (Black Sage)
Baccharis pilularis (Coyote Bush)
Eriogonum fasciculatum (California Buckwheat)
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
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Requirements

Hardiness 7 - 11
Climate Zones 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Ornamental Grasses
Plant Family Poaceae
Genus Stipa
Common names Purple Needle Grass
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Late)
Summer (Early, Mid)
Height 2' - 3'
(60cm - 90cm)
Spread 1' - 3'
(30cm - 90cm)
Spacing 18" - 30"
(50cm - 80cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Evergreen
Native Plants United States, California
Tolerance Drought
Garden Uses Beds And Borders, Ground Covers
Garden Styles Prairie and Meadow, Informal and Cottage
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Stipa (Feather Grass)
Not sure which Stipa (Feather Grass) to pick?
Compare Now

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