Searching for the elusive Purple Needle Grass in Glen Canyon

By Murray Schneider, Glen Park News

On a cold and grey May 11th morning, two Friends of Glen Canyon Park volunteers angled up and then along a canyon slope high above Alms Road, their eyes peeled for elusive purple needle grass. Integrated among California broom and meadow barley, the perennial grass, which looks like a mermaid’s trident, produces seeds that can be sown in other canyon habitats, performing as a bulwark against soil erosion.

Collected purple needle grass in Rec and Parks envelope.

It took only a little over 30 minutes for Natural Habitats gardener, Randy Zebell, to train Steven Uchida and Janelle Reed. First locating the wispy grass that acts as a soil stabilizer, Reed and Uchida next ran their fingers along the spine of the purplish grass, gently removing its seeds. Each volunteer carried Rec and Parks envelopes. They carefully placed the seeds into them. The collected seeds will eventually find their way to the Rec and Parks nursery near the carousel in Golden Gate Park. There the seeds will be nurtured, and then eventually returned to Glen Canyon and redistributed as healthy plants.

After nearly 90 minutes of collection, looking at the seeds ensconced in Zebell’s hands, Uchida commented, “There’s lots of preparation work to help nature.”

Janelle Reed collecting purple needle grass in Glen Canyon.

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