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Bouteloua curtipendula

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Plant types and subtypes: Ground Covers, Grasses, Ornamental Grasses

Light Requirements: sun, part-sun

Water Use: low

Soil Moisture: dry, moist

Soil Description: acid, neutral, average, poor, loam, clay, sand, gravel/rock

Height: 2'-3'

Bloom Time: May, June, July

Bloom Color: red, crimson, purple

Leaf Color: green

Hardiness Zone: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Additional Tags: attracts birds, clumping, dried flowers, drought tolerant, fall interest, mat-forming, naturalizing, ornamental foliage, rock garden plant

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)
  • Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)
  • Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)
  • Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)
  • Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

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Description

Bouteloua curtipendula

Also known as:

sideoats grama

,

sideoats grass

Scientific Synonyms:

Description

Bouteloua curtipendula is a compact warm season grass with a clumping habit and attractive bluish foliage. The leaf blades are up to 8” long and ¼” wide. The total height of the plant when in seed is only about 2 ½’ to 3’. Its texture is coarser than most other species of grama. Both the inflorescence and ensuing seed heads are visually interesting, consisting of a zigzag stalk with oat-like spikelets dangling to one side. It will turn lovely shades of golden-brown, orange, and even some hints of red. If left to got to seed, the visual effect is quite striking with a very distinctive display.

Cultivation

Cultivation is very easy. This is a tough plant for tough places. It will grow in full sun, and just about any type of soil including those containing a lot of rock or gravel, and even in heavy clay. Oh, and no need to water this one. It definitely likes things on the dry side, and is remarkably drought tolerant. It is compact, low-growing, and not aggressive, making it a perfect companion for flowering perennials in small gardens. When planted en masse, it is an excellent choice for a matrix plant that will not overwhelm your other plants while adding some stability to your design. Also try it out as a substitute to the alien cold season grasses used for our lawns. It is not ideal for high traffic areas, but withstands mowing with ease and is a native option for sod-like, low traffic paths running through naturalized areas or pollinator gardens. It is both cold hardy, and heat tolerant. Zones 3-9

Propagation

Easily propagated by division in early spring or fall, and by unstratified seed.

Additional Notes

The genus was named to honor two Spanish brothers and botanists from the late 18th century: Estéban and Claudio Boutelou. The specific epithet, curtipendula, means shortened and pendulous, and describes the disposition of the seeds. Similarly, the common name sideoats grama, describes the seed disposition as well as their resemblance to oats, which are bold characteristics and make this species easy to identify. Interesting factoid: This species is also found in the South America, where the word commonly used for sod, is grama.

Native Range & Classification

Recorded County Distribution: USDA data

Native Range:
AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI, WV, WY

USDA Endangered Status:

  • Endangered: CT, NJ, NY
  • Special Concern: KY
  • Threatened: MI, PA

Classification

Kingdom Plantae Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta Flowering plants
Class Liliopsida Monocotyledons
Subclass Commelinidae
Order Cyperales
Family Poaceae Grass family
Genus Bouteloua grama
Species Bouteloua curtipendula sideoats grama