South Dakota Native Plant Research
Poaceae : Bouteloua hirsuta

Poaceae : Bouteloua hirsuta


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Family Name


Common Name

Hairy grama

Native American Name

Lakota: pȟeží okhížata


Bouteloua hirsuta is a tufted perennial grass, with solid, erect and sometimes bent culms, which grow 10 cm to 45 cm in height. The leaves are basal and alternate on the culms, c-shaped in the bud and flat to rolled at maturity. The blades are 5-25 cm long and 1-3 mm wide, with thickened margins and long, white hairs with pimple-like bases on at the base of the blade, on the margins and occasionally on either or both surfaces. The leaf sheath is smooth to hairy, especially near the ligule and the ligule is a fringe of hairs <0.5 mm long. The inflorescence has 1 (occasionally 2+) branch, 15-30 mm long, that has 20 to 50 spikelets arranged on one side of the rachis, tightly packed in 2 rows, with the tip of the rachis extending 5 to 10mm beyond the terminal spikelet. The spikelets each have 2 unequal bracts (glumes) with extended tips (awns) that are green to purple, one <4 mm long and the other 5 to 6 mm long with hairs along the midrib, which enclose one fertile and usually one sterile floret. The fruit is a 1-seeded grain, oblong-elliptic, brown, 2.5 to 2.6 mm long. Hairy grama blooms from July into October in prairies and pastures in southern South Dakota.

Additional Notes

Hairy grama is a drought tolerant species that adds texture to xeriscapes. The leaves create attractive tufts and the inflorescences look like eyelashes. The leaves are utilized by butterfly larva and the seeds attract birds.

Horticulture Notes

Seed Collection: Collect seedheads in the fall after they turn tan colored, before the seeds are released.

Germination: Seed will germinate without any pretreatment and can be planted in the fall or spring.

Soils: Well drained rocky to sandy soils.

Light: Full sun to partial shade.

Water: Moderately dry to dry conditions after the seedlings become established.

Poaceae : Bouteloua hirsuta