Crypsinna rigens (Benth.) M.E.Jones
Epicampes leptoura Piper
Epicampes rigens Benth.
Muhlenbergia leptoura (Piper) Hitchc.
Muhlenbergia marshii I.M.Johnst.
Muhlenbergia mundula I.M.Johnst.
Common Name: Deergrass
Muhlenbergia rigens is a perennial, clump-forming grass with erect culms around 50 - 150cm tall[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and source of material for basketry. It is a significant basketry material for central and southern California Native Americans who utilize the flower stalks in the foundations of coiled baskets. The plant is sometimes gathered from the wild in quantity for sale as basketry material[
] and it is also sometimes grown as an ornamental, it's long, slender culms, and tall tufts making it an attractive plant for the garden[
Southwestern N. America - California to Texas and south to central Mexico
Sandy washes, gravelly canyon bottoms, rocky drainages, and moist, sandy slopes, often along small streams, at elevations from 90 - 2,500 metres[
|Other Uses Rating
Requires a sunny position and a well-drained soil[
]. Plants can tolerate periodic inundation of the soil, so long as the ground is free-draining at other times[
]. Established plants are fairly drought tolerant[
Seed - ground into a pwder and eaten as a mush, or mixed with other ground seeds and used to make a porrige or bread[
]. The seeds are very small, requiring about 500,000 to make 100g[
The plant is a valuable streambank stabilizer, as it has an extensive root system, and if grown in dense enough colonies, it can be an effective weed suppresser[
Plants are found in dense, large clumps in the wild, but can occur as a continuous cover in areas that are subjected to light, frequent ground fires[
The stems are used as the foundation in coiled basketry[
]. Frequently thousands of flower stalks are needed for completion of each basket.
Culms are gathered in late spring while still green, or summer or early autumn when golden brown[
Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse and only just cover the seed. Germination should take place within 2 weeks. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer if they have grown sufficiently. Otherwise, grow them on in a greenhouse for their first winter and plant them out in late spring of the following year.
Division in spring. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found it best to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame, planting them out once they are well established in the summer.