E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Danthonia californica Bol.
California oatgrass
Poaceae (Grass family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Adolf Ceska  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #20723)

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Distribution of Danthonia californica
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Species Information

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Perennial, tufted grass from fibrous roots; stems disarticulating at the nodes (10) 30-130 cm tall.
Sheaths smooth or soft-hairy, the upper ones usually smooth or unevenly soft-hairy, the hairs 1-2 mm long; blades (1) 2-5 (6) mm wide, flat to in-rolled, smooth to soft-hairy; ligules less than 1 mm long, fringed with fine hairs.
Inflorescence a raceme of (2) 3 to 6 (10) slightly to broadly spreading spikelets, the branches longer than the spikelets; spikelets (10) 14-26 (30) mm long; lemmas 5-10 mm long, hairy along the margins, rarely smooth, sometimes sparsely hairy over the back, the apical teeth stiff-awned, (2) 4-6 (7) mm long, also awned from the back, these awns abruptly bent, (7) 8-12 mm long, the calluses usually longer than wide, with stiff hairs laterally; anthers to 4 mm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Blooming Period:
Early Spring
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Brown
Present over the Spring
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Moist to dry grasslands, meadows, open woods, shorelines and rocky bluffs in lowland and montane zones; common in SW BC, rare in SC BC; E SC SK and S to SD, NM, AZ, and CA; Chile.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Danthonia californica

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 50 857 2390
Slope Gradient (%) 0 29 210
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
19 177 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 2 7
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: AT(1), BG(1), CDF(9), CWH(10), ESSF(7), IDF(14), MS(3), PP(1), SBPS(5), SBS(3)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is cool temperate & cool mesothermal.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Danthonia americana Scribn.
Danthonia californica var. americana (Scribn.) Hitchc.
Danthonia californica var. californica Bol.
Danthonia californica var. palousensis H. St. John
Danthonia californica var. piperi H. St. John
Danthonia macounii

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References