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Small Flowered Needlegrass
Stipa lepida
About Small Flowered Needlegrass (Stipa lepida) Nurseries Show All Photos Small Flowered Needlegrass (Nassella lepida) is a native grass that grows in northern, southern and central California. It is fast growing and moderately long-lived. It grows in an upright form to a height of 3 feet, with active growth during the spring. Flowers are yellow and bloom in the early spring. Leaves are medium green and deciduous. It tends to grow in dry slopes, at elevations from 0-4000 feet.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
1.7 - 3.3 ft (0.5 - 1 m)

Max. Width
2 ft (0.6 m)


Winter Deciduous

Blade 12-23 cm long, 1-3.5 mm wide, margins flat to inrolled. Awn 1.2-5.5 cm long.

Flower Color

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Dry slopes

Full Shade, Part Shade, Sun

Elevation ?
13' - 5599'

Annual Precip. ?
9.1" - 101.9"

Summer Precip. ?
0.15" - 2.78"

Coldest Month ?
38.3° F - 56.7° F

Hottest Month ?
62.2° F - 80.8° F

Humidity ?
0.48 vpd - 28.89 vpd

Soil Description
Adaptable but often found in clay loam

Soil PH
5.3 - 8.2

Slow, Medium

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 15° F

Sunset Zones ?
7*, 8, 9*, 11, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18*, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24*

Companion Plants
Native annual wildflowers such as Buckwheats (Eriogonum spp.) and Golden Yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum) and other native grasses.

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Very Easy

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

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Can be mowed or sheared to 4-6 inches

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed (no treatment, plant in summer/fall) or by divisions (plant in winter)

Common uses

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Botanical Names
Nassella lepida

Common Names
Foothill Stipa, Small-flowered Needlegrass, Small-flowered Stipa, Smallflower Tussockgrass

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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