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In 1997 we protected the Cloverdale Coastal Ranches property near Pescadero, CA, which at the time was largest piece of undeveloped land on the San Mateo Coast. This diverse property combines acres of productive agricultural lands, 700 acres of redwood forest and over a mile of coastline. However, the invasion of some non-native grasses pose a threat to the Ranches’ diverse landscape. Let’s investigate what invasive species are causing problems on the coast!
Name: Cortaderia jubata, Cortaderia selloana
Street name: Jubata grass, Pampas grass.
Though Jubata and Pampas are two different species of Cortaderia, they are often used interchangeably – and both have invaded our Cloverdale Coastal Ranches property. In this case report, we will profile Jubata grass as it’s considered more invasive in coastal regions.
Characteristics: This perennial grass can grow over six feet tall, and has long leaves with a tufted base. Its leaves range from deep to bright green in color, often with white or light pinkish-purple plumes.
Origin: This plant is a South American native, whose home is in northern Argentina and the Andes of Bolivia, Chile and Ecuador.
Spread: Jubata grass was first cultivated in France and Ireland using transported seeds from Ecuador. The plant’s first establishment in California dates back to the mid-1800s, when it was introduced as a nursery plant. Its spread throughout the state occurred naturally, by wind-blown seeds and commercially, by people using the grass as an ornamental garden addition.
Impact: Our Cloverdale Coastal Ranches property contains sensitive coastal habitat areas that were particularly threatened by the invasion of Jubata grass. The grass crowds out native plant diversity and hinders the growth of native plant species by limiting available water and nutrients. As Jubata grass spreads rapidly once established, large areas of grassland, scrub and rocky outcrop habitat real estate for native species can quickly be lost to the invasive.
Action: When POST acquired the Cloverdale property in 1997, there were several extensive stands of Jubata grass on the property. Jubata is a tough customer, both fire resistant and quick growing, and because it is outside of its native range, there are no natural insect or fungi controls to keep the grass in check. One of the best methods of removal is manually or mechanically uprooting and removing the grass to prevent resprouting. Our partner Go Native Nursery, working with both professional and volunteer stewardship crews, used high-res aerial photography to plot plant densities, plan a targeted attack and remove vast stands of the plant across the property.
Outcome: Thanks to years of strategic action, the Jubata grass’ hold on our Cloverdale property has been significantly reduced! In the first two phases of removal, the stewardship crew removed over 895,000 plants. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the grass is no longer a concern. POST and our partners continue to monitor the property to ensure that Jubata grass is kept in check so that the native grasses have room to thrive.
Banner photo: Brett Davis, 2010
Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) protects open space on the Peninsula and in the South Bay for the benefit of all. Since its founding in 1977, POST has been responsible for saving more than 76,000 acres as permanently protected land in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties.