Sporobolus airoides
Photo by Pete Veilleux, East Bay Wilds

alkali sacaton

This plant grows well in the following regions:

  • SMSierra and Coastal Mountains
  • CVCentral Valley
  • DTDesert
  • NCNorth and Central Coast
  • SCSouth Coast
Map of regions (click to enlarge)
map of California regions



Native grass that grows in southern and central California. Found near the coast, foothills, central valley, desert mountains. Tolerates alkaline soil.

Moderately fast-growing and moderately long-lived. Grows upright to 3 ft. Active growth in spring and summer. Yellow flowers bloom in mid summer. Prairie dropseed is a graceful, fine-textured, clumping grass that is both tough and good-looking. It contains deep-roots and is drought-tolerant. This species is excellent for massing in hot, dry areas and can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions.

The name sacaton derives from the Aztec/Nahuatl word for grass, zacatl. Tolerant of flooding and drought.

Warm season grass. At bloom time in summer or fall, showy erect or arching flower plumes increase plant height to 5 ft. Pinkish plumes fade to pale straw color. Extremely tough, deep-rooted.

Sun needs:

  • Full sun

Water needs:

  • Low water
  • Very low water
Water needs information from WUCOLS unless otherwise noted