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Thursday - March 13, 2008

From: Lenexa, KS
Region: Midwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native grasses for Kansas City
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I live in a Johnson county suburb of Kansas City. I would like to have a section on my yard be native grasses. Can I drive the country roads and dig up clumps of the grasses I like? Will they grow? Any suggestions.


We were unable to find specific rules on what is allowed in terms of digging up wild plants in Kansas. However, we can tell you that in Texas, you can be cited for criminal trespass if you go onto private land and dig up plants without permission of the landowner. There are laws prohibiting damaging or destroying roadside rights-of way. Grasses found along roadsides may well have been specifically planted for some purpose, such as erosion control, and may be considered a seed crop to continue their purpose in the future. We believe the State of Kansas may very well have similar restrictions. Plus, there are all sorts of rules and laws concerning digging up Threatened or Endangered Plants in any area of the country. And, finally, even if you could overcome all the other problems, you might not be able to recognize a beneficial native grass as opposed to a non-native, possibly invasive one.

Having now given you all sorts of barrier to your plans, let us say that we totally commend your intent to convert some of your yard to native grasses. Native plants are lower maintenance, in that they are already adapted to the environment, requiring less artificial watering, less (or no) fertilizing, and being prepared for the temperatures in the area. However, the best way to obtain stock for this endeavor is to purchase either seeds or plants from reputable nurseries or seed companies that specialize in native plants. We will make some suggestion for suitable grasses, and also give you some sources of supply of either the seeds or the plants.

We clicked on "Recommended Species", which brought up a map of the United States. We clicked on the outline of the State of Kansas and got a list of recommended native plants for that state. We then clicked on "Narrow Your Search" and specified Kansas for the state, grass or grass-like plants for habit, perennial for duration, 6 hours or more sun, and dry soil. This produced this list of nine grasses suitable for your area. Click on the scientific name and it will take you to a page of information about that particular grass-average height, bloom season, propagation, etc.

Now, where to get more information as well as seeds and/or plants for your native grass project. We are great fans of the Native Plant Societies of the various states. They can provide you with more direct information and help about your soils, climate, and suitable plants than we can. We found this website for the Native Plant Society of Kansas. From their homepage we clicked on "Resources" which brought us to a page on Range Grasses for Kansas. Many of the same grasses are on both lists, although we selected all perennials for our list, and some on the Native Plant Society list are annuals. You can compare information and that will help you decide. Finally, we went to our Native Plant Suppliers List and found this list of nurseries and seed suppliers in Kansas. Some have websites or phone numbers where you can reach them and inquire about their stock. And we can also recommend Native American Seed in Junction, TX for excellent supplies and information about native grasses.

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem)

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

Koeleria macrantha (prairie Junegrass)

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Sporobolus heterolepis (prairie dropseed)

Andropogon gerardii

Bouteloua curtipendula

Bouteloua gracilis

Elymus canadensis

Koeleria macrantha

Panicum virgatum

Schizachyrium scoparium

Sorghastrum nutans






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