Interesting Plant: Deer Grass (Muhlenbergia rigens) via BeWaterWise.com

Deer Grass (Muhlenbergia rigens) via BeWaterWise.com

A few months ago I was invited down the office of the Metropolitan Water District to meet a number of people involved in their BeWaterWise.com project to help reduce water usage in California. As part of their efforts, they focus on providing plant alternatives to water hungry lawns. Over the next several weeks, I will be highlighting some of their garden alternatives as part of this series. For more information on these plants and other water conservation ideas and programs, vist BeWaterWise.com — Douglas

Interesting Plant:  Deer Grass (Muhlenbergia rigens) via BeWaterWise.com

Photo: Stan Shebs

This native California grass is narrow-leafed and forms a dense clump up to 2-3 feet high and wide. The bright green leaves are joined by spiky cream-colored owers in spring that stand tall at rst, and lean a little later, rising 2 feet above the leaves. The deer grass is drought tolerant and does best with little to moderate water in full sun or light shade. An added bonus: deer grass attracts helpful garden bugs like spiders and ladybugs. — BeWaterWise.com

Muhlenbergia rigens, commonly known as Deergrass, is a warm season perennial bunchgrass found in sandy or well drained soils below 7,000 feet (2,100 m) in elevation in theSouthwestern United States and parts of Mexico.

The young shoots are browsed by a variety of animals,[2] but with age the plant becomes unpalatable and is useful in an exposed garden setting for its deer resistance.[3] It has also been used for erosion prevention andstreambank stabilization because of extensive root systems. Restoration efforts currently use deergrass to displace exotic invasive annuals that dominate current grassland ecosystems as well as remediate overtilled and eroded agricultural land where they anchor loose soils and return lost organic matterPhytoremediative studies have also been conducted to test deergrass’s ability to remove chemicals from agricultural runoff. Deergrass’s dense stands and extensive roots act as a biofilter effective for herbicide, pesticide and particulate removal and breakdown.

Among the Zuni people. the grass is attached to the sticks of plume offerings to anthropic gods.[4]Wikipedia

More information on Deer Grass (Muhlenbergia rigens):
 
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Previously in the Interesting Plant series: 

Interesting Plant is a series from A Gardener’s Notebook blog and podcast that highlights the most interesting plants I find in my Internet and real-world travels — Douglas

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