GIANT WILD RYE

Elymus condensatus

Chumash: šax Español: Carrizo

Giant Wild Rye

Elymus condensatus

The Giant Rye Grass, also known as Canyon Prince Wild Rye, was an important plant to Native Americans in Southern California, who used the semiwoody stems to fashion arrow shafts. The Chumash also used Giant Wild Rye to collect sugar. Aphids on the plant secrete sugars and then the sugars were harvested by thrashing the leaves onto animal hides and then collecting the sugars into balls. This was a main source of sweetener for the Chumash. 

Other perennial rye grasses similar to the Wild Rye can be found in the chaparral slopes, one such grass is Deergrass, it is a similar bushy bunchgrass that is very important to wild- life. Deer use clumps of deergrass for cover when they have young fawns, and many mammals graze on the young grass blades. The seeds provide food form many birds, and the plant itself is an important larval food source for several butterfly species. Native Americans used the flowering stems as the foundation for their famous coiled baskets, with an individual basket requiring thousands of these stems.

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