Free shipping on orders of $100.00 or more.

EARTH DAY SEED SALE! Use coupon code EARTH15 at checkout for 15% OFF all orders.

Native Grass Series: California State

RSS icon

Native plants play a crucial role in the wide range of California’s ecosystems: coastal areas, deserts, forests, and grasslands.

California is famously known around the world for its biodiversity and conservation efforts. California works at preserving ecosystems and upholding ecological integrity and diversity, sustaining biodiversity, addressing climate change, promoting the well-being of nature and people, and ensuring water security. Some defining ecosystems throughout California include the following:

Coastal Areas

California has an extensive coastline along the Pacific Ocean, encouraging unique growth within these coastal ecosystems. Sandy beaches, salt marshes, rocky shores, coastal dunes, and estuaries provide homes to a variety of marine life, seabirds, sea mammals, shorebirds, and coastal plant communities.

Creeping Red Fescue is a cool-season perennial sod-former grass that is native to much of the northern United States, as well as part of the Rocky Mountains and Pacific Northwest. It is low-growing and has a dense network of roots. It is used for erosion control, does well in part shade and shady areas, drought tolerant, and salt tolerant (making it a great choice for coastal regions). It can tolerate a wide range of habitats and climates and is even palatable and nutritious for wild animals, providing a lush prairie-like look.Creeping Red Fescue

Native: Northern United States; Northern Hemisphere: Asia and Europe

Scientific Name: Festuca ruba

Life Form: Cool-Season Perennial

Supported Wildlife: Bees and butterflies; is a host plant for the Umber Skipper, Mardon Skipper, and Sachem

Germination Rate: Slow

Seeding Rate: 4lbs./1000 sq ft

Chaparral and Coastal Sage Scrub

These ecosystems are characterized by dense shrublands, commonly found in California’s Mediterranean climate regions. Drought-tolerant shrubs such as chamise, manzanita, sagebrush, and California sagebrush are commonly found here. This region supports a diverse collection of plant and animal species.

Blue Wildrye is a native cool-season perennial bunchgrass found all along North America and the Great Plains. In California, it can be found in every region except the low desert. It forms a tall thin very upright habitat, slow spreading grass that grows well in a variety of soil types. It’s a crucial soil stabilizer, habitat creator, and food source for wildlife. Provides a bluish-gray hue, is drought tolerant, wildfire resistant, and can be grown without irrigation in areas that receive at least 15 inches of annual precipitation.

Native: North America; northern Mexico.

Blue Wildrye

Scientific Name: Elymus glaucus

Life Form: Cool-Season Perennial

Supported Wildlife: Bees and butterflies; is a host plant for Chionodes figurella

Companion Plants: Wide variety of woodland and chaparral plants; Desert Daisy 

Height: 1’-5’

Germination Rate: Quick

Seeding Rate: 12lbs./Acre

Redwood Forests

Iconic old-growth redwood forests are featured along the northern California coast. These ancient trees, some of the tallest on Earth, create a distinctively breathtaking ecosystem. Redwood forests are portrayed by towering trees and compact vegetative undergrowth while providing wildlife habitat for a variety of species.

Sand Dropseed is a warm-season perennial native bunchgrass that prefers sandy, well-drained soils, but can be seen growing in washes and rocky slopes of California. Sand Dropseed is found all over California and is drought tolerant, very valuable for erosion control in sandy areas, wildfire resistant, and provides forage for livestock and wildlife.

Native: North America

Sand Dropseed

Scientific Name: Sporobolus cryptandrus

Life Form: Warm-Season Perennial

Supported Wildlife: Bees and butterflies

Companion Plants: Wide variety of woodland and chaparral plants; Desert Daisy 

Height: 1’-3’

Germination Rate: Slow

Seeding Rate: 2lbs./Acre

Sierra Nevada Mountains

The Sierra Nevada Mountains extend over a significant portion of California, providing a home to various ecosystems. From conifer forests and subalpine meadows to alpine tundra and glacial lakes. The Sierra Nevada is famous for its abundant and distinctive wildlife: black bears, mule deer, mountain lions, and numerous bird species.

Idaho Fescue is a cool-season perennial bunchgrass that is native to the woodlands and foothills of Western North America. In California, it can be found in the Coast Ranges and foothills of the Sierra Nevada: from shady forests to open plains grasslands. It forms dense tufts and is drought-tolerant, making it a perfect addition to water-wise landscapes and naturalized areas. It prefers well-drained sandy soils (though it is adaptable), provides bluish-green foliage, and is an excellent forage for both wildlife and livestock.

Native: Woodlands and foothills of the Intermountain West

Idaho Fescue

Scientific Name: Festuca idahoensis

Life Form: Cool-Season Perennial

Supported Wildlife: Bees and butterflies; is a host plant for the Sandhill Skipper, Sonora Skipper, and Lindsey’s Skipper Butterfly

Companion Plants: Yarrow; Blue-Eyed Grass 

Height: 1’-3’

Germination Rate: Quick

Seeding Rate: 6lbs./Acre

Mojave Desert

The Mojave Desert is located in southeastern California, extending to neighboring states. Its desert ecosystem is characterized by arid conditions, spare vegetation, and extreme temperatures. Some plants iconic to this region include Joshua trees, yuccas, and cacti; along with unique desert wildlife: desert tortoises, kangaroo rats, and kit foxes.

Purple Three Awn is a warm-season perennial bunchgrass that is native to Southern California and the Great Plains. In California, it is primarily found in Mono County southwards, in desert, mountain, and coastal habitats. It is drought-tolerant, preferring dry, sandy soils in full sun, and is used for erosion control and wildfire resistance. Produces a light brown reddish color.

Native: Southern California, Great Plains, and northern Mexico

Purple Three Awn

Scientific Name: Aristida purpurea

Life Form: Warm-Season Perennial

Supported Wildlife: Bees and butterflies; is a host plant for the White-Lined Sphinx Moth

Companion Plants: Brittlebush; various cactus and succulent species.

Germination Rate: Quick

Seeding Rate: 6lbs./Acre

Central Valley

This ecosystem is a vast agricultural region stretching across most of central California. It’s known for its diverse crops and rich fertile soil. This region was historically a wetland, however, due to agricultural stressors, the landscape has been greatly altered.

Blue Grama is a warm-season perennial bunchgrass that is native to North America. In California, it is mostly found in the arid mountains of San Bernardino Counties. Blue Grama provides palatable forage for livestock, is extremely drought tolerant, and is low maintenance. It grows about a foot tall and prefers well-drained, gravelly soils. Excellent companion plant for wildflowers.

Native: North America

Scientific Name: Bouteloua gracilis

Life Form: Warm-Season Perennial

Blue Grama

Supported Wildlife: Bees and butterflies; is a host plant for the Woodland Skipper, Pahaska Skipper, Ridings’ Skipper, and Uncas Skipper

Height: 1’

Germination Rate: Slow

Seeding Rate: 4lbs./Acre

Alpine and Subalpine Zones

Mount Shasta and Mount Whitney are California’s highest mountain peaks. These high-elevation zones are characterized by strong winds, limited vegetation, and low temperatures. This region, however, does showcase some unique alpine plants and wildflowers, as well as providing specialized habitats for wildlife species.

Bottlebrush Squirreltail is a cool-season perennial bunchgrass that is native to a large portion of the western United States. It is a highly valued seed for reclamation and reseeding disturbed rangelands and is known for being one of the most fire-resistant native grasses. It’s great for green manure, erosion control and can be used as a cover crop. It prefers dry, gravelly, or saline soils (though it is adaptable).Bottlebrush Squirreltail

Native: Western United States

Scientific NameElymus elymoides, previously known as Sitanion hystrix

Life Form: Cool-Season Perennial

Supported Wildlife: Bees and butterflies; is a host plant for the Nevada Skipper

Height: 1’-2’

Germination Rate: Slow

Seeding Rate: 7lbs./Acre

Wetlands

California’s wetlands are ecologically important and face countless threats, including habitat loss, invasive species, and pollution. Restoring and protecting wetlands is vital for conserving biodiversity, supporting migratory bird populations, maintaining water quality, and promoting overall ecosystem wellness. Water plays a defining role in wetland ecosystems, such as coastal wetlands, riparian wetlands, vernal pools, and freshwater marshes found around California. They house unique plant and animal communities and valuable ecological benefits.

 

Some of these varieties can vary depending on factors such as soil conditions, local climate, and elevation.

Identifying 5 Common Lawn Grass Species

Identifying 5 Common Lawn Grass Species

Whether you’re overseeding an existing lawn, thinking about establishing a new lawn or reseeding bare or thinning spots, it’s important to know what kind ...

Should You Ever Let Your Lawn Go to Seed?

Should You Ever Let Your Lawn Go to Seed?

We’ve probably all seen it, and some of us might even be guilty of it from time to time. It can be the result ...

Ready to start your project?

Shop Now