South Dakota Native Plant Research
Poaceae : Bouteloua dactyloides

Poaceae : Bouteloua dactyloides


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Family Name


Common Name

Buffalo grass

Native American Name

Lakota: pȟeží iwíčhakȟoyaka, pȟeží hiŋkpíla


Bouteloua dactyloides is a perennial, strongly stoloniferous, mat-forming grass, with solid culms that grow 3-20 cm in height. The leaves are rolled in the bud and flat at maturity, 1-10 cm long and up to 2 mm wide, smooth except with a few hairs in the collar region. The ligule is a fringe of hairs <1 mm long, often flanked by long hairs. The plants are dioecious, the male inflorescences are on slender culms Having 2-5 one-sided branches, 7-13 mm long with 2 rows of spikelets each surrounded by 2 unequal bracts (glumes) one 1.4-3 mm the other < 5 mm long , surrounding 2 florets with 3 or fewer stamens. The male inflorescences are often retained into the fall. The female plants produce spikelets in 2-3 burr-like clusters subtended by modified foliage leaves, with 2-3, 1-flowered spikelets per burr. The fruit are grains that are retained in the burr. Buffalograss blooms from April into June in prairies predominantly on western South Dakota.

Synonym: Buchloe dactyloides

Additional Notes

Buffalo grass is commonly found and often abundant in mixed grasses and shortgrass prairies of foothills and lower elevations, often codominant with blue grama (B. gracilis). These 2 grasses can be planted to create a drought tolerant lawn that needs mowing only once or twice per year.

Horticulture Notes

Seed Collection: Seeds are hard to harvest as the burrs sink to the base of the plants. Collect seed heads as soon as they become a tan color and allow them to completely dry in paper bags or in the open. Separate the seeds from the burrs and store them in a cool, dry place.

Germination: Seeds are not dormant and will germinate in about 3 weeks when moisture is available.

Vegetative Propagation: Stolons produce new plants that can be easily transplanted.

Soils: Tolerant of gravelly to well drained, heavy soils.

Light: Full sun.

Water: Moderately dry to dry.

Poaceae : Bouteloua dactyloides