Common name: Purple Needlegrass. Nassella pulchra, basionym Stipa pulchra, is a species of grass known by the common name purple needlegrass. It is native to the U.S. state of California, where it occurs throughout the coastal hills, valleys, and mountain ranges, as well as the Sacramento Valley and parts of the Sierra Nevada foothills, and Baja California. It is the most widespread native bunchgrass and its growing range is from the Oregon border into northern Baja California. It probably never formed extensive grasslands (Hamilton 1997), flourishing primarily in moderately disturbed areas. Scientific name: Nassella pulchra Family: Poaceae (grass) Habitat: grassland Size: plants up to 2 feet tall Fun facts: This grass was once nominated to be the “state grass” of California.. It resembles N. manicata, but has longer florets and less strongly developed crowns. This species has the same dominant characteristic as most grassland plants: it is able to withstand long periods of drought. Purple Needlegrass (Nassella pulchra) Purple needlegrass is a perennial bunchgrass which can live up to 150 years. The official State Grass designated in 2004, is Nassella pulchra, or Purple needlegrass, as it is most commonly known. The species also occurs in the Central Valley and foothills of the Cascade Range and Sierra Nevada, and on the Channel Islands. Purple needlegrass can be found in temperate grasslands from the Oregon border into northern Baja California. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center focused on protecting and preserving North America's native plants through native plant lists and image galleries, conservation, education, natural landscapes, seed collection - Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) Project, preserving and restoring native communities, spreading awareness on invasive species and gardening to attract wildlife. It cannot be used as a lawn grass because of its clustered nature, but it can be used as decorative grass. But the individual grasses are still here, and in recognition of their historical and environ- mental importance, the Cali- fornia legislature in 2004 declared that the most domi- nant native grass, purple needlegrass (Stipa pulchra, formerly known as Nassella pulchra), as the official state grass. Nassella pulchra, basionym Stipa pulchra, is a species of grass known by the common names purple needlegrass and purple tussockgrass. Discussion. It is native to California, where it occurs throughout the coastal hills, valleys, and mountain ranges, as well as the Sacramento Valley and parts of the Sierra Nevada foothills, and Baja California. Some grass species in these habitats include red oat grass (Themeda triandra) and Rhodes grass (Chloris gayana) in tropical savannas, and purple needlegrass (Nassella pulchra) and galleta in temperate areas. California grasslands were probably historically dominated by perennial bunchgrasses such as purple needlegrass (Nassella pulchra) and bottlebrush squirreltail (Elymus elymoides) [22,55,204,211,251]. Nassella pulchra is California’s state grass. Description: Member of the grass family.Each grass flower is made up of a pair of tiny bracts and the stamens and pistil. Distribution Purple needlegrass occurs on the west side of the Coast Ranges from northern Baja California north to the Oregon border. Popular in native grass mixtures and in wildflower mixtures. Scientifically known as Nassella pulchra, purple needlegrass is native to the coastal hills of California, ranging from the Oregon border south to Baja, California. Purple needlegrass is a medium-large, long-lived bunchgrass well adapted to clay soils. Attractive grass with interesting seed panicles. Nassella pulchra can be used to help restore habitats, prevent erosion and maintain levees. 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