Gathering Deergrass

Ladybugs on deergrass, Muhlenbergia rigens, in the Laguna Mountains, California. Deergrass is an overwintering site for great groups of ladybugs.

Deergrass field, Laguna Mountains

Kim from the Pala Reservation gathering deergrass in North County, San Diego

Diania Caudell, Luiseño, gathering deergrass at Agua Hedionda Interpretive Center

Abe Sanchez, master basketweaver, gathers deergrass, Rancho Cuyamaca State Park

Excerpt from an interview with Abe Sanchez on June 19, 2008 at his home in Laguna Beach, with Rose Ramirez and Deborah Small:

Deergrass has its season. Again, it’s one of the plants that does better after it’s been burned or chopped down or lopped off. This is very important.

You want to gather it when its starts coming up around August—July or August when the little stems start coming up. This of course depends on the altitude. Timing all depends on the altitude. It starts coming up, and then its ripe … again, high altitude, low altitude: October, November, December. I’ve been able to gather it as late as January or February.

You have to gather deergrass early. If you leave it until later, it’s no good, because the elements will destroy it and wear it out, so it has to gathered just after it dries. So right after it grows the seeds, right after it dries out, that’s when . . . before the rains come. . . . Because if it’s been sitting out there in the rains, the rain is going to rot it, and the deergrass will not work.


  1. Michelle Locher June 15, 2016 at 4:02 pm

    Please show us some pictures of the baskets Abe weaves with the deergrass…:) I weave baskets from native red willow growing here in northern New Mexico at Taos Pueblo 🙂



  2. […] interviews with Abe and others as well  as a series of beautiful photo documentation, see Deborah Small’s Ethnobotany Blog where she speaks to gathering Chia, Juncus, Deergrass. She also provides a purview of what the day […]



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