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

 Native Plant Database

Bouteloua curtipendula

Sideoats grama, Banderilla, Banderita, Navajita

Poaceae (Grass Family)

Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats grama)
Marcus, Joseph A.
Side-oats grama is a bunchy or sod-forming grass with 2-3 ft. stems in erect, wiry clumps. Purplish, oat-like spikelets uniformly line one side of the stem, bleaching to a tan color in the fall. The basal foliage often turns shades of purple and red in fall. This is a perennial warm season grass; clump forming. Two varieties are recognized: variety curtipendula is shorter and more rhizomatous and ranges from southern Canada to Argentina. Variety caespitosa spreads more by seed than by rhizomes, is more of a bunchgrass, and is restricted mostly to southwestern North America.

Not only is Sideoats Grama the state grass of Texas, but this medium-tall grass mixes well in plantings with spring wildflowers, because it stays short in the spring. Birds love the ripe seeds. In nature, this plant increases rapidly when its site is damaged by drought or grazing.

Image Gallery:

30 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Grass/Grass-like
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Venation: Parallel
Inflorescence: Spike
Fruit Type: Caryopsis
Size Notes: 1 to 3 feet, rarely higher
Leaf: Green, Blue-green, sometimes turning purple or red in fall
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Tan, Ivory
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red , Orange , Yellow
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov


USA: AL , AZ , AR , CA , CO , CT , FL , GA , HI , ID , IL , IN , IA , KS , KY , LA , ME , MD , MI , MN , MS , MO , MT , NE , NV , NJ , NM , NY , ND , OH , OK , OR , PA , SC , SD , TN , TX , UT , VA , WA , WV , WI , WY , DC
Canada: MB , ON , SK
Native Distribution: South-central Canada and much of the US, south through Mexico and Central America to western South America as far as Argentina
Native Habitat: Prairies; open brush; forest openings; rocky slopes

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Drought Tolerance: High
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Medium-textured, well-drained soils. Disturbed, igneous, limestone-based sands, loams, and clays.
Conditions Comments: Often found growing with Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), but doesnt compete well with very tall grasses.


Use Ornamental: An attractive grass good for wildflower meadows, prairie restorations, and garden accents.
Use Wildlife: Provides bird food, nesting material, and cover, as well as graze for mammals.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Larval Host: Green Skipper butterfly, Dotted Skipper butterfly
Deer Resistant: High

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Bouteloua curtipendula is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Orange Skipperling
(Copaeodes aurantiaca)

Food Source
Learn more at BAMONA
Bronze Roadside-Skipper
(Amblyscirtes aenus)

Food Source
Learn more at BAMONA
Sheep Skipper
(Atrytonopsis edwardsi)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
Elissa Roadside-Skipper
(Amblyscirtes elissa)
Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
Green Skipper
(Hesperia viridis)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
Dotted Skipper
(Hesperia attalus)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Last Update: 2015-12-08