Stipa capensis

Stipa capensis_Mediterranean steppegrass_JM DiTomaso
Photo: Joseph DiTomaso

Synonyms: Achnatum capense

Common names: Cape ricegrass, Mediterranean steppegrass, twisted-awned speargrass

Stipa capensis (Cape ricegrass) is an annual grass (family Poaceae) native to the Mediterranean region that is naturalized in the Coachella Valley of the Sonoran Desert. It is spreading rapidly in the Palm Springs area and has the potential to promote fire in California desert ecosystems. Cape ricegrass typically grows 50 dm and is distinguished by annual habit, dense inflorescence, and exceptionally long, twisted awns. The sharp seeds of the plant can injure animals, and may attach to their fur as a dispersal mechanism. This invasive grass may also decrease native wildflower abundance.

Cal-IPC Rating: Moderate — Alert?

CDFA Rating: None?


Plant Assessment Form - Information gathered by Cal-IPC on the impacts, rate of spread, and distribution of invasive plants in California. Does not include management information.

Weed Management Notes

  • Management Notes - Information on management techniques and effectiveness from the University of California Cooperative Extension’s Weed Research & Information Center.

Cal-IPC Newsletter Articles

There are no newsletter articles associated with this species yet.

Cal-IPC Symposium Presentations

Presentations are linked where available. Where a presentation is not available, find more information by reading the abstract in the Cal-IPC Symposia Archive.

Other Stipa capensis Information

  • CalPhotos - Images of plants taken mostly in California.
  • Calflora - Distribution map and records of this species in California.
  • CalWeedMapper - Distribution map of this species in California with ability to determine regional priorities.
  • EDDMapS - Distribution of this species in North America.
  • Jepson Interchange - Information on this plant's taxonomy, biology, and distribution from UC Berkeley's Jepson Herbarium.
  • USDA PLANTS Database - Information on identification and distribution, with links to websites in individual states.
  • Additional photos

    Stipa capensis_inflorescenses_LuigiRignanese
    Stipa capensis (Cape ricegrass) inflorescenses. Photo: Luigi Rignanese
    Stipa capensis_growth habit (with Bromus madritensis)_EmilyChase
    Stipa capensis (Cape ricegrass) growth habit (with Bromus madritensis). Photo: Emily Chase