California Cottontop , Arizona Cottontop

Digitaria californica



This bunchgrass has hard, stiffly erect, round stems growing from a knotty, swollen, hairy base. Leaves are 3 to 5 inches or 7.6 to 12.7 cm long, flat, and do not clasp the stem firmly. The panicle is 2 to 5 inches or 5 to 12.7 cm long with white to purplish hairs that are longer than the spikelets. This gives the seed head a cottony appearance. Bloom time can occur from March through November.  California Cottontop is a perennial, warm-season, native standing about 1 to 4 ft or 0.3 to 1.2 m tall.  Good grazing for livestock. Fair grazing for wildlife. 


Grows in open, well-drained areas on a wide variety of soils. It is palatable throughout the year and is frequently overgrazed but responds well to grazing deferment. Native habitat includes prairies, plains, meadows, pastures, and savannas. It is a very drought tolerant species that is rarely found in pure stands. It will go to seed repeatedly if moisture is available.