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Small Flowered Melica Back to Plant Page
Melica imperfecta

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About Small Flowered Melica (Melica imperfecta) Melica imperfecta is a species in the Poaceae (Grass) family known by the common names California Melic, Small Flower Melic and Little California Melic. It is native to the southwestern United States and Baja California, where it grows in chaparral, woodlands, and other dry areas. In California it is found primarily in the central and southern portions of the state, along the coast, in the coastal mountain ranges, and in the foothills of the Sierras. It is a perennial bunchgrass growing up to 1.2 meters in maximum height. The flower cluster is a narrow or spreading series of attractive spikelets which are green in color with areas of purple. With supplemental water it will remain evergreen; otherwise it is summer dormant. It greens up early with fall/winter rain.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
3.2 - 4 ft (1 - 1.2 m)

Max. Width
1 ft (0.3 m)

Upright, Fountain


Growth Rate

Summer Semi-Deciduous, Evergreen

Leaf blades are 1-6 mm wide and have a ligule 0.8-6.5 mm long.

Flower Color
Yellow, Brown

Flowering Season
Spring, Winter

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Dry rocky and/or sandy hillsides, canyons and mesas of central and southern California, extending into the desert edge. Found with Chaparral, coastal sage scrub, and various woodland types

Sun, Part Shade

Elevation ?
0' - 10807'

Annual Precip. ?
4.8" - 57.1"

Summer Precip. ?
0.14" - 3.08"

Coldest Month ?
25.3° F - 59.1° F

Hottest Month ?
49.0° F - 87.7° F

Humidity ?
0.47 vpd - 38.56 vpd

Soil Description
Tolerates a variety of soils

Soil PH
5.0 - 8.0

Fast, Medium

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 0° F

Sunset Zones ?
7, 11, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18*, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24*

Companion Plants
Use as an understory with Oaks (Quercus sp.) or other trees. Also useful in a meadow-like garden or rock garden with other native grasses, annual wildflowers, herbaceous perennials such as California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica), succulents such as Dudleya spp., and various cactus species.

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Very Easy

Water Requirement ?
Very Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water, 1x/month
No Summer Water
Keep moist

If allowed to go dormant in summer, the plant can be cut back to a few inches

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: No treatment. Best sown in fall.

Common uses
Deer Resistant, Butterfly Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Common Names
Smallflower Melicgrass, Small Flower Melic, Little California Melic

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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