En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Thursday - June 14, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Distinguishing Bermuda grass from Buffalo grass
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Dick Davis

QUESTION:

Is Bermuda grass taking over my Buffalo grass lawn? I recently sodded a small area of Buffalo Grass 'Prairie' (last fall). It's doing beautifully, or so I think. There are stolons running and reaching all over the place. How can I tell if these are Buffalo grass stolons or stolons of the nasty, nasty Bermuda grass??

ANSWER:

Distinguishing between the stolons of the two species is difficult unless there are flowers present. Both show variable "hairiness" around the nodes and leaf sheaths so this feature is not going to be definitive. The nodes on buffalograss tend to be a bit more swollen with several leaves emerging from them instead of one or a very few; however, if you don't have stolons from both species for comparison, this is going to be difficult to determine. The flowers, however, are very different. Bermuda has a windmill-like infloresence with 2 to 7 branches. Buffalo usually has separate male and female plants. The male flowers are flag-like banners standing above the leaf blades and the female flowers are somewhat hidden amongst the leaves, rounded and burr-like, but not spiny. If you see any bermuda flowers, you can pull up that clump and all attached runners, and then have these as a sample to compare for further control efforts.

Here are a few "visuals" to help you. Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss), which has just had its botanical name changed from Buchloe dactyloides, has both pistillate (female) plants and staminate (male) plants. Here are more photos of buffalograss. Cynodon dactylon (Bermuda grass) has both the male and female flowers (perfect flowers) on a single plant. Here is the line drawing for the Cynadon dactylon (Bermuda grass) plant.

 


 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Flowering Deer Resistant Ground Cover for Dry Rocky Soil: Alabama
March 26, 2012 - My question has been partially answered in the FAQ but I live in Birmingham where the soil is clay and rocky so it's a little different. I want to plant on a rocky slope (small rocks like the size of...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover to control hillside erosion in Illinois
May 04, 2014 - I have seen some other questions regarding native plants for erosion control, but I am looking specifically for plants that will do well on a hill in partial to full shade. I am told the soil in our a...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for high traffic area in Pennsylvania
August 01, 2012 - I am wondering if there is a Pennsylvania native turf like grass/plant that can withstand a lot of foot traffic (public area with lots of children). This will be used in a formal setting so will need ...
view the full question and answer

Turf grass for part-time home from Louisville KY
April 28, 2012 - We have a small yard at a remote location with cistern water, and need a turf grass for a yard, clay soil, which I am willing to amend. It will receive sporadic attention as my husband and I do not l...
view the full question and answer

Replacements for yuccas from Georgetown TX
August 07, 2013 - I have lost some softleaf and variegated yucca to a beetle grub destroying the root system - like the Agave snout beetle does. I have put an insecticidal drench on my remaining plants, but suspect wi...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center