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California Hairgrass
Deschampsia cespitosa ssp. holciformis
About California Hairgrass (Deschampsia cespitosa ssp. holciformis) Nurseries Show All Photos California Hairgrass (Deschampsia cespitosa ssp. holciformis) is one of three recognized subspecies of this native bunchgrass. Ssp. holicformis grows in Central and Northern California, primarily along the coast and in the Coast Ranges. It is found in coastal prairie habitat and mountain meadows, along with other native grasses such as Fescues (Festuca spp.) and Needlegrass (Stipa spp.). It is most often found in moist to very wet areas such as freshwater or saltwater marsh, riparian areas, and woodland/forest habitats at elevations up to 4,500 ft. It is said to be deer-resistant. Although native to the central/northern coast, it reportedly performs well in coastal areas of southern California. It does not do well in hot, dry inland areas. This subspecies is somewhat less commonly seen in the garden compared with the species, but it would be a good choice for gardens in its native range.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Width
12 in (30cm)


Growth Rate

Summer Semi-Deciduous

Flower Color

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Wet places, meadows, streambanks, marshes

Sun, Part Shade

Elevation ?
-51' - 6635'

Annual Precip. ?
11.8" - 107.0"

Summer Precip. ?
0.19" - 2.90"

Coldest Month ?
35.0° F - 51.1° F

Hottest Month ?
52.4° F - 73.1° F

Humidity ?
0.01 vpd - 18.57 vpd

Soil Description
Tolerates most soils

Soil PH
5.0 - 7.0

Slow, Standing

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 25° F

Sunset Zones ?
4*, 5*, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22*, 23*, 24*

Companion Plants
Use in moist locations with other native grasses, perennial herbs or annual wildflowers such as Yerba Mansa (Anemopsis), Sedges (Carex sp.), Rush (Juncus sp.), Monkeyflower (Mimulus cardinalis or guttatus), and Hedge Nettle (Stachys sp.)

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

Seldom Used

Max. Summer Water ?
1/week, Keep moist
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Common uses
Deer Resistant, Butterfly Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

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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