Climate is very important in the growth of California oatgrass. The Pacific Coast typically has cool summers and warmer winters than most other areas of the United States. The warm temperatures allow for germination to occur. There have been many benefits experimentally shown to provide quicker germination rates among this organism. Even though California oatgrass is a native plant, it can still overpopulate in an area and cause dormancy in the seeds.  Some benefits include mild burning and grazing on several small portions of seed plots (Hatch et al. 1999). Mowing can also be a benefit. This was an experiment by Wilson and Clark in 2001 showing how the varying heights of mowing can affect the growth and flowering of California oatgrass (Wilson and Clark 2001). The mowing height associated with a higher growth rate in California oatgrass can be used in areas where this organism is not thriving. On the other hand, the mowing height that causes lower growth rates can be beneficial for areas where overpopulation is occurring.

There is a vast variety of wildlife on the Pacific coast, and these wildlife and livestock take advantage of the large amounts of California oatgrass (Darris and Gonzalves 2008). This organism improves the habitat for these animals by providing a food source, a cover for hiding, and nesting in certain areas. Revegetation and restoring land is also a function of California oatgrass (Darris and Gonzalves 2008, Hayes and Holl 2011). In the drawing shown below (Figure 1) California oatgrass can grow as a very thick plant. These grassy portions are what provide the hiding sites for other organisms. Specific organisms include the devastating grasshopper and the Clark Sphinx Moth, along with the Cyclosa conica spiders which create their webs within this grass. A good example of how spiders utilize this organism is shown on the Facts page.

Photo of California oatgrass
Figure 1. A general drawing of Danthonia californica. Illustrated by Kristin Jakob.

Below is a diagram (Figure 2) of the structures of California oatgrass. It shows the many aspects and components of this organism and what is involved in the process of its growth. The upper portion is comprised of the seeds, which contain pollen grains that get dispersed in the wind. The flowering of California oatgrass is also within this upper portion. The middle portion consists of multiple branchings and leafy sections that provide more surface area to the plant. The root system also provides this support. A higher surface area is very beneficial for the nutrient acquisition of this native grass.

                             Photo of flowering California oatgrass             
Figure 2. A diagram of the structures of Danthonia californica.
Photo taken by Paul Slichter. 2008.

How does this organism reproduce? Let's find out!

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