South Dakota Native Plant Research
Poaceae : Bouteloua gracilis

Poaceae : Bouteloua gracilis


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Family Name


Common Name

Blue grama

Native American Name

Lakota: pȟeží okhížata


Bouteloua gracilis is a mat-forming perennial grass, growing from short rhizomes, with solid culms reaching up to 50 cm in height. The leaf blades are C-shaped in the bud and flat to slightly rolled at maturity, 1-19 cm long and 0.5-2.5 mm wide. The leaf surfaces are often rough to the touch and may have hairs on one or both sides. The ligule is a short fringe of hairs less than 0.5 mm long. The inflorescence consists of 1-3 branches, 14-40 mm long bearing numerous spikelets. Each spikelet is surrounded by a pair of unequal glumes (bracts) with hairs along the midribs, one < 3.5 mm the other < 6mm long, containing 1 sterile and 1 fertile floret, each with a short awn. Fruit are single seeded grains. Blue grama blooms from June through August on dry prairies and waste grounds throughout South Dakota.

Additional Notes

Blue grama is becoming a common member of native lawn mixtures, often with with Bouteloua dactyloides. Blue grama is drought tolerant and hosts larva of native skippers.

Horticulture Notes

Seed collection: Collect fruits after they turn tan to brown, before the seeds are released.

Germination: Seeds can be fall or spring sown without any pretreatment.

Light: Full sun to partial shade.

Soil: Well drained rocky, sandy to loamy soils.

Water: Moderately dry to dry.

Poaceae : Bouteloua gracilis