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Nasella pulchra is a widely distributed tuft grass species throughout California grasslands, and is, in fact, the state grass; moreover, the species range extends into Baja Mexico. California grasslands represent a threatened ecosystem due to intensive conversion to agricultural land, urban development and invasion of non-native grasses. Correspondingly, N. pulchra is receiving strong consideration by researchers for grassland restoration.
With a common name of Purple needlegrass, this perennial bunchgrass can attain a height of 30 to 100 cm. Roots of mature plants extend to an incredible depth of up to seven meters, allowing the notable longevity of individuals that may reach centuries in age.