The brown hills of California are far from monochromatic. Look closely and you’ll see a complex tapestry of colors, textures, shapes, sizes–and sounds! Do you hear that rustling rattle as you brush through the grass? Look close and you’ll see graceful stalks of rattle-shaped grass heads.
This is rattlesnake grass, or Briza maxima—one of my favorite plants of the summer. Sadly this nice-looking plant is also fairly invasive (introduced from Europe, and occasionally planted as an ornamental). It’s now become naturalized in the Coast Range and in scattered other parts of California, which is why you see it almost everywhere.