Leymus condensatus 'Canyon Prince'

Common Name: giant rye grass 
Type: Ornamental grass
Family: Poaceae
Zone: 7 to 10
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to August
Bloom Description: Light green to brown
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Leaf: Colorful, Evergreen
Attracts: Birds
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought, Erosion, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil


Best grown in dry, sandy, well-draining soils in full sun. Tolerant of drought and a wide range of soil types, including clayey, saline, and alkaline soil. Will appreciate some light afternoon shade in hot, inland, desert climates. Hardy in USDA Zones 7-10.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Leymus condensatus, commonly called giant rye grass, is a perennial, rhizomatous grass native to dry, rocky slopes, sand dunes, ravine banks, gullies, and ditches in chaparral, coastal sage scrublands, and oak woodlands from California south to northern Mexico. Mature clumps can reach up to 6' tall and 8' wide, spreading by underground rhizomes to form large colonies. The narrow, sword-shaped, evergreen leaves can reach 0.75" wide and are grey-green in color. Dense spikes of small, light green flowers bloom in summer and mature to light brown. This plant was used by native peoples including the Chumash, Pomo, and Cahuilla to make arrows, mats, rope, and thatch. The roasted seeds were also ground and used as flour. The leaves are a larval food source for several species of moths and the seeds are eaten by birds and small mammals. Synonymous with Elymus condensatus.

The genus name Leymus is an anagram of the genus name Elymus.

The specific epithet condensatus means "dense" or "crowded", possibly in reference to the flowering spikes.

'Canyon Prince' is a compact selection of giant rye grass that features blue-grey foliage and a dense, rounded habit. It was discovered on Prince Island, an islet off the coast of San Miguel Island, one of the eight main landmasses that make up California's Channel Islands. Mature clumps can reach 3' tall and spread to fill a 4' area. Colonies will slowly spread over time to fill in large areas if left unimpeded. Dense spikes of small, light green flowers are held 1-2' above the foliage in summer and mature to light brown.


No major pest or disease problems of note. Spread is slow but may be considered aggressive if left unchecked. Overwatering will lead to root and crown rot.


Use as a textural element in rock gardens, desert gardens, seaside gardens, and natural areas. Suitable for use in xeriscaping and for erosion control. Best planted in an area where it can be allowed to spread.