A bunchgrass is a grass growing in a bunched or tuft
form, usually a perennial
. Other grasses may be annual
grasses, or grasses with creeping or rhyzominous form. Bunchgrasses may die aboveground during the dry season, but their roots and core survive all year. Because they can invest more in their roots than annual grasses, these generally stay green
longer than their annual counterparts. They are resistant to grazing
as they can resprout from their belowground components. Since bunchgrasses generally grow in an irregular pattern, as opposed to total cover, there is often room for annuals such as wildflowers to grow in association with them. Bunchgrasses can be encouraged in nature by appropriately timed prescribed burn
s, and by avoiding overgrazing
(they are resistant to moderate grazing)
In California, most native grasses are bunchgrasses. In many areas, these have been crowded out by annual grasses like wild oats. Bunchgrasses are still dominant in undisturbed areas and in areas under oak trees, which hold moisture under their crowns. Some examples of California bunchgrasses are Nasella and Deergrass.
Although they are not useful as turfgrasses, bunchgrasses are useful in landscaping as accent plants. Some, like deergrass, are rather large and can be used as major landscape elements. The smaller ones can be interspersed with wildflowers like California Poppy or Lupine.