the cousin 'it' grass


Deer grass
muhlenbergia rigens

  • mounding grass to 4-5' tall and wide

  • tan spikes in the fall

  • moderate water (terrace zone)

  • full sun to shade


  • nesting materials for native bees and birds, seeds for birds and mammals

Native to the SW USA an Northern Mexico at elevations up to 7000 feet, Deer Grass (Muhlenbergia rigens) thrives in varied conditions: from full sun, to difficult reflected heat exposures, and even tolerates quite a bit of shade. The form of this plant may remind you of cousin "it". 

This mounding grass can eventually attain a height and width of about 4-5'. It makes an excellent accent and has few problems. Extremely drought tolerant, the grass may get brown if lack of water is extreme, but can seemly come back from the dead (though we suggest you not treat any plant in such a way). Slender, tan flower spikes emerge in fall and plants will go brown in the winter (though in certain microclimates it may stay relatively green). To refreshen, cut back within a few inches of the ground in early spring. This species looks good green or dormant. 

This grass is important to native bees and birds (for nest building). Many birds also eat the seeds. 

Katherine Gierlach