Marcus, Joseph A.
Bouteloua curtipendula (Michx.) Torr.
Poaceae (Grass Family)
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: 29 photo(s) available
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: 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:
Tan, Ivory Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Red , Orange , Yellow
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov
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
, 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 USDA Native Status: L48(N), HI(I), CAN(N)
Growing ConditionsWater 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.
BenefitUse 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)
is a larval host and/or nectar source for: