[fosc] Fwd: Support Nassella pulchra . . .

Karen Paulsell kpaulsell@pacbell.net
Mon, 15 Mar 2004 21:24:23 -0800

Nassella pulchra, purple needlegrass, is one of the native species that 
FoSC has propagated and planted. It grows on the serpentine (the state 
rock) slope in the nursery, in the Sunset grassland area, and other spots 
in the watershed. Lovely in the spring, a shimmery purple-green color.

So, we have the state rock, the state flower (California Popply) the state 
bird (Quail) and the state tree, Redwood in the watershed. Can't say that I 
long to have the state mammal -- the Grizzly -- around.

(CNGA is the California Native Grass Association.)

>Date:         Mon, 15 Mar 2004 18:37:23 -0800
>From: Doug Johnson <dwjohnson@CAL-IPC.ORG>
>Subject: Fwd: Support Nassella pulchra . . .
>>The article below appeared in the Stockton Record Yesterday.  CNGA has
>>endorsed the legislation and is encouraging members to join with us in
>>promoting the passage of SB1226.
>>You may mail your comments to
>>State Capitol, Room 3086
>>Sacramento, CA 95814
>>Or email him at:
>>Machado roots for native species as official grass of California
>>By Will Shuck
>>Capitol Bureau Chief
>>Published Sunday, March 14, 2004
>>SACRAMENTO -- It chokes weeds and nurtures oak trees. Native Americans ate
>>it, and pioneering ranchers grew it for grazing.
>>Now a state senator and a contingent of native plant buffs want to
>>enshrine Nassella pulchra as the official grass of California.
>>Grown in deep-rooted tufts that can live for 100 years, purple needle
>>grass (as it's commonly known) is found throughout California, from the
>>Mexican border to Oregon.
>>Aficionados of native turf say sowing it along highways would cut down on
>>the need for water and herbicides, since purple needle grass is
>>astonishingly drought-tolerant and crowds out the peskiest weeds.
>>It probably won't replace fescue or rye on suburban lawns, but if it did,
>>the state would save millions of gallons of water a year.
>>Senate Bill 1226, by state Sen. Michael Machado, D-Linden, would give it a
>>place alongside the California poppy and the grizzly bear as a symbol of
>>the Golden State.
>>The senator points out that Utah and Nevada have similarly honored Indian
>>rice grass. Montana recognizes blue bunch wheat grass as its state grass.
>>"Purple needle grass can become a signature species," he said. "Part of
>>appreciating who we are is understanding the history of what was."
>>And purple needle grass thrived in California soil long before Europeans
>>arrived here. Natives ate the seeds. During the Mexican era, ranchers
>>moved their cattle through vast sections of the perennial.
>>Biologists say the grass once spread across 25 million acres. Today, it is
>>found on about 100,000 acres.
>>"Hopefully by drawing attention to it, maybe it could create a demand for
>>it," Machado said.
>>Demand is already growing.
>>John Anderson raises about 40 acres of it on his Hedgerow Farms west of
>>"I think this year we probably sold 8,000 to 10,000 pounds," Anderson
>>said. That's enough to seed about 800 acres. "We're selling more all the
>>Much of it goes to environmental restoration projects. Some went to the
>>Southern California hillsides left blackened and denuded after last fall's
>>The state Department of Transportation buys purple needle and other native
>>grasses for roadsides.
>>Once a rarity selling for as much as $100 a pound, Anderson now offers it
>>at as cheaply as $22 a pound for very large orders.
>>"It's probably not a good lawn plant," Anderson said, "because it gets
>>very clumpy, but you could keep it mowed down. It can be maintained."
>>Biologist Frank Maurer, executive director the Quail Ridge Wilderness
>>Conservancy in Yolo County, has been trying to get recognition for
>>Nassella pulchra for years.
>>"Several other lawmakers have looked at it," he said. But nothing came of it.
>>So when Machado's aides called and said the senator would carry the bill,
>>"I was totally delighted," Maurer said. "It's good to have a senator
>>backing this, and he's a farmer, also."
>>Maurer is effusive about purple needle grass. The moisture held in its
>>roots, which can burrow 16 feet, offers vital help to young oak trees. It
>>battles the scourge of the star thistle, and it burns more slowly than
>>other wild grasses.
>>"It's a wonderful biological tool," Maurer said.
>>"I think this could be a very important working symbol for California."
>   Doug Johnson, Executive Director
>   California Invasive Plant Council
>   1442-A Walnut Street, #462
>   Berkeley, CA 94709
>   ph: (510) 843-3902
>   fax: (510) 217-3500
>   email: dwjohnson@cal-ipc.org
>   web: www.Cal-IPC.org
>   Protecting California wildlands
>   from invasive plants through
>   research, restoration, and education.