- Author: Robert J Keiffer
By this time of the summer, most grasses have headed out and dropped seed onto the ground to mix amongst the brown-gray duff layer. However, right now, there is one perennial native grass that is just now showing off its prominent seed heads. It is the Big Squirreltail Grass (Elymus multisetus (J.G.Smith) Burtt Davy). The common name, of course, comes from the fact that it looks like a bushy squirrel tail.
This unique grass is found throughout California and much of the western U.S. About this time of the summer, the fruiting seed head is mature,and will break off in part or whole with the slightest wind. The seeds (actually the glumes on the seeds) each have 3 to 5 long awns which gives the seed head a fluffy appearance. Because of the large, fluffy "buoyant" shape of the seed head it easily drifts and tumbles on the landscape with the wind, thus spreading the plant's dispersal range.