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California State Grass

Purple Needlegrass

California State Grass: Purple Needlegrass

(Nassella pulchra)

Adopted in 2004

The official State Grass designated in 2004, is (Nassella pulchra,) or Purple needlegrass, as it is most commonly known.

David Amme, author of "Grassland Heritage" in Bay Nature's April-June 2004 issue, called purple needlegrass "the undisputed candidate for official state grass." State Sen. Michael Machado, D-Linden, sponsoring the legislation to make purple needlegrass California's official state grass.

California State Grass: Purple Needlegrass

California State Grass: Purple Needlegrass

Nassella pulchra, basionym Stipa pulchra, is a species of grass known by the common name purple needlegrass. It is native to California, where it occurs throughout the coastal hills, valleys, and mountain ranges, as well as the Sacramento Valley and parts of the Sierra Nevada foothills, and Baja California.

It grows in many types of local habitat, including grassland, chaparral, and oak woodland. It grows well on clay and serpentine soilsPurple needlegrass is a medium-large, long-lived bunchgrass well adapted to clay soils. It is the most widespread native bunchgrass and its growing range is from the Oregon border into northern Baja California.

The seed of this grass species was one of several used by many California Native American communities as a food source. It remains to this day as an important food source for California's wildlife. During the period of Mexican control of California, Purple needlegrass was used for cattle grazing to support the cowhide and tallow industry. Today, this grass continues to provide forage for California's important cattle industry.

Once established, Purple needlegrass is tolerant of summer drought and heat. It can live more than 150 years and has been used in projects such as habitat restoration, erosion and levee control.

California Bill Number: SB 1226 Chaptered

BILL TEXT

CHAPTER 243
FILED WITH SECRETARY OF STATE AUGUST 23, 2004
APPROVED BY GOVERNOR AUGUST 23, 2004
PASSED THE ASSEMBLY AUGUST 9, 2004
PASSED THE SENATE MAY 10, 2004
AMENDED IN SENATE APRIL 26, 2004
AMENDED IN SENATE MARCH 17, 2004

INTRODUCED BY  Senator Machado
  (Coauthors: Assembly Members Wiggins and Wolk)

  FEBRUARY 11, 2004

An act to add Section 425.10 to the Government Code, relating to
State Grass.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST

SB 1226, Machado. State Grass.
Existing law declares the official State Animal, Rock, Mineral,
and Bird, among other official things.

This bill would make purple needlegrass, or Nassella pulchra, the
official State Grass.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1. The Legislature hereby finds and declares all of the
following:
  (a) Nassella pulchra, or purple needlegrass as it is commonly
known, is the most extensive and widespread native perennial
bunchgrass found in the state, with a range extending from the Oregon
border into northern Baja California.
  (b) The seed of this grass species was one of several used by many
California Native American communities as a food source. It remains
an important food source for wildlife.
  (c) During the period of Mexican control of California, Nassella
pulchra was used for cattle grazing to support the huge cowhide and
tallow industry. Today, Nassella pulchra continues to provide forage
for California's important cattle industry.
  (d) The deep root systems of this grass support the survival of
young oak trees by promoting mycorrihizal fungi, which are important
to their health.With a lifespan of up to 100 years, Nassella pulchra
provides food for more than 330 terrestrial species of life.
  (e) Once established, Nassella pulchra helps repel the invasion of
weeds and has been used for numerous restoration projects such as
establishing a specific habitat for fauna, erosion control, and
stormwater containment levees. It is hardy, drought resistant,
desirable forage to livestock, and easily recognizable.
  (f) Nassella pulchra burns more slowly than flash-burning annual
stubble and speeds postfire recovery of burned habitat.
  (g) Because Nassella pulchra is native to California, many who
work with native plants and habitat restoration have already
informally named this species as the State Grass.
  (h) With new species of exotic grasses and weeds emerging
everyday, it is important to recognize Nassella pulchra as a symbol
of the heritage, splendor, and natural diversity found in the early
days of California.
  (i) Nassella pulchra is used as a teaching tool as a symbol of the
natural environment of early California, and protecting the history
of Nassella pulchra is essential to safeguarding this precious
resource and enhancing grassland heritage throughout the state.
SEC. 2. Section 425.10 is added to the Government Code, to read:
  425.10. Purple needlegrass, or Nassella pulchra, is the official
State Grass.

California Law

The law designating Purple needlegrass as the official California state grass is found in the California Government Code, specifically Title 1, Division 2, Chapter 2, Section 425.10.

Government Code - GOV
TITLE 1. GENERAL [100 - 7914]
( Title 1 enacted by Stats. 1943, Ch. 134. )

DIVISION 2. STATE SEAL, FLAG, AND EMBLEMS [399 - 447]
( Division 2 enacted by Stats. 1943, Ch. 134. )

CHAPTER 2. State Flag and Emblems [420 - 429.9]
( Chapter 2 enacted by Stats. 1943, Ch. 134. )

425.10.

Purple needlegrass, or Nassella pulchra, is the official State Grass.
(Added by Stats. 2004, Ch. 243, Sec. 2. Effective January 1, 2005.)

Taxonomic Hierarchy: Purple Needlegrass

Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
    Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
    Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class:" Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
    Subclass: Commelinidae
Order: Cyperales
Family: Poaceae ⁄ Gramineae – Grass family
Genus: Nassella (Trin.) Desv. – needlegrass
Species: Nassella pulchra (Hitchc.) Barkworth – purple needlegrass

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