Grazing Plays Role in Preserving California’s State Grass

Purple needlegrass, California’s official state grass, is recognized for its drought tolerance, ecological role in attracting beneficial root fungi, and role in recovery of burned lands. Researchers from UC Riverside and the University of Oregon teamed up to study how to promote the health of needlegrass plants. The results of their six-year study, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology showed that purple needlegrass did better in places where sheep were allowed to graze. Researchers believe grazing helped needlegrass survive by creating space for it to grow and by eating non-native grasses that compete with it.