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Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana (Silver bluestem)
Strickland, Sam C.

Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana

Bothriochloa laguroides (DC.) Herter ssp. torreyana (Steud.) Allred & Gould

Silver Bluestem, Silver Beardgrass, Silver Beard Grass

Poaceae (Grass Family)

Synonym(s): Andropogon saccharoides var. torreyanus, Bothriochloa saccharoides var. torreyana, Dichanthium saccharoides subvar. torreyanum

USDA Symbol: bolat

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Blades: Conspicuous basal cluster. Culms: 4-16 dm. tall. Panicles: 6-10 cm. long, dull green with a whitish, waxy bloom.


From the Image Gallery

13 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Grass/Grass-like
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Linear
Leaf Venation: Parallel
Inflorescence: Panicle
Fruit Type: Caryopsis
Size Notes: Up to about 5 feet tall when flowering.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov


USA: AL , AR , AZ , CA , CO , FL , GA , IL , KS , KY , LA , MO , MS , NE , NM , NV , OK , SC , TN , TX , UT
Native Distribution: Alabama, Missouri, and Colorado to Mexico.
Native Habitat: Relatively dryish often sandy soil in open places and roadsides. Seen on clayey soils which are well drained.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Drought Tolerance: High
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Open, dry, sandy soils.
Conditions Comments: Clumping grass with silky flower puffs on vertical stems. Foliage of this plant is 12 to 18 inches high and the erect flower spike grows 2-3 feet above the foliage. As fall progresses, the leaves turn from red to purple or burnt orange. This color is held deep into winter. This plant can be used as an accent or in a prairie or meadow. Plant in well drained soil in full sun. Can take some shade but will flop over in too much shade. This plant is drought tolerant but can take some water.


Use Wildlife: Fair forage value for livestock and wildlife. It is usually only grazed in its early growth stage.
Use Other: The Kiowa were recorded to have used the stems as toothpicks.
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Larval Host: Skippers, Satyrs
Deer Resistant: High


Propagation Material: Seeds
Seed Treatment: No special pre-treatment.
Maintenance: Good seeder on range site, but seedlings need protection for grazing to establish a stand.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Patsy Glenn Refuge, c/o Wimberley Birding Society - Wimberley, TX
Nueces River Authority - Uvalde, TX
Texas Master Naturalists - Lost Pines Chapter - Bastrop, TX

Herbarium Specimen(s)

NPSOT 1034 Collected Jun 7, 1995 in Bexar County by Mike Fox
NPSOT 0804 Collected May 29, 1994 in Comal County by Mary Beth White
NPSOT 0984 Collected Nov 7, 1994 in Bexar County by Mike Fox

3 specimen(s) available in the Digital Herbarium

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana


Record Modified: 2022-12-02
Research By: DEW, JSC, RLU

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