En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Distinguishing Bermuda grass from Buffalo grass

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

Slope Erosion control for Fairview NC
August 19, 2012 - Please recommend plants to help with soil erosion on a slope. The soil is red clay and area gets full sun. The slope is approximately 12' x 12'. I live in Fairview, NC
view the full question and answer

Developing fields with native plants from New Egypt NJ
July 24, 2013 - I have several acres of fields that I want to develop with native grasses and flowers. I would like to know the best time to mow the fields so that bushes and volunteer trees don't take over and that...
view the full question and answer

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

What is a lawn broom from Cibolo TX
February 15, 2013 - Concerning gulf muhly grass you mention using a lawn broom to get rid of the dead stalks. What is a lawn broom? What does it look like? Where can I purchase one?
view the full question and answer

Grasses for shady areas
November 24, 2013 - I would like to know which grasses would grow in mostly shady part of the house.
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center