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Muhlenbergia rigens

Deer Grass
  • Plant Type:
  • Grass & Grass-like, Shrub
  • Evergreen-Deciduous:
  • Evergreen
  • Overall Mature Size:
  • Medium
  • Also Grown As:
  • Bush
  • Mature Height & Spread :
  • 4' x 4'
  • Natural Growth Habit:
  • Clumping
  • Native To:
  • California, Southwest, Mexico and Central America
  • Exposure:
  • Full Sun, Partial Shade
  • Water:
  • Medium Water, Low Water
  • Flower Color:
  • Purple
  • Bloom Time:
  • Fall
  • Special Features:
  • Desert Conditions, Drought Resistant, Seacoast Conditions
  • Container Sizes:
  • #1, #5
  • Sunset Garden Zones:
  • 4-24


This California native grass has been popular with indigenous populations for hundreds of years. Named for an 18th century botanist and Lutheran minister, Henry Muhlenberg it was coveted by the Zuni tribe for basket weaving material and for making bread. It forms a dense tuft of long narrow leaves that are silver to green to purple. They are best kept 4’ apart so that the attractive rounded shape is not lost. They are beautiful in groups of three, planted side by side to form an attractive row, or paired with boulders and other native grasses and perennials to achieve a naturalistic landscape. Deergrass, as it is affectionately known, is only popular with animals in its early life when the stalks are tasty and tender. With age, they will be left alone. Tall, nearly 2 foot tall, flower stalks appear in the fall. Excellent for erosion control, it will need no supplemental water once established. Muhlenbergia rigens is recommended for Sunset Western Garden zones 4-24 and is partial to full sun or partial shade. Boething Treeland Farms grows it in 1 and 5 gallons.