Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Bouteloua dactyloides

Buffalograss, Buffalo grass

Poaceae (Grass Family)

Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss)
Strickland, Sam C.
Buffalograss is a soft, gray-green or blue-green, perennial turf grass which grows 3-12 inches if left unmowed and spreads by rhizomes. This long-lived, warm-season, sod-forming grass has curly leaf blades, slender stems, and compact seed heads.

One of very few drought-tolerant North American grasses suitable for lawn use, and the only one widely available, Buffalograss has become very popular since the late 1980s. (Two other drought-tolerant native lawn grasses are Blue Grama/B. gracilis and Curly Mesquite Grass/Hilaria belangeri.) Buffalograss does best in clay loam, where it can survive on as little as one and a half inches of rainfall per month. In areas with even less rainfall, Buffalograss is sometimes mixed with the more drought-tolerant Blue Grama (B. gracilis) to insure solid color through the dry season. Cultivars Texoka and Comanche were bred for forage and can reach 12 inches. 609, Prairie, and Stampede are lawn selections. Stampede doesnt get taller than 4 inches. Buffalograss lawns can be mowed or left to billow softly in the wind.

Image Gallery:

44 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Grass/Grass-like
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Retention: Semi-evergreen
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Venation: Parallel
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Dioecious
Inflorescence: Spike
Fruit Type: Caryopsis
Size Notes: 3 to 12 inches
Leaf: Gray-Green, Blue-Green
Size Class: 0-1 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov , Dec
Bloom Notes: Blooms opportunistically throughout growing season.


USA: AZ , AR , CO , GA , IL , IA , KS , LA , MN , MO , MT , NE , NV , NM , ND , OK , SD , TX , UT , VA , WI , WY
Canada: MB , SK
Native Distribution: Manitoba and Saskatchewan south through the central plains states of the US as far south as Puebla in Mexico. Mostly west of the 97th meridian and east of the Rocky Mountains and desert regions.
Native Habitat: Prairies, plains, meadows, pastures, savannahs. A dominant grass in shortgrass prairie, understory in taller prairie.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low , Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Drought Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Well-drained loam, clay, caliche, or limestone. Does not like sand.
Conditions Comments: Requires only one and a half inches of rain per month to stay green. Will go dormant during droughts and in winter.


Use Ornamental: A soft, fine-leaved, low-maintenace, drought-tolerant turf grass that can be mowed. Many cultivars have been selected for lawn use, almost entirely male strains so there wont be seedheads.
Use Wildlife: Foliage cured on the ground furnishes winter browse for mammals. Seeds and leaves are food and nesting material for birds.
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Larval Host: Green Skipper butterfly.

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Bouteloua dactyloides is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Green Skipper
(Hesperia viridis)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Last Update: 2015-02-10