At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

What is Sideoats Grama?

Alex Tree
Alex Tree

Sideoats grama is a common name for Bouteloua curtipendula, a perennial short grass from the Poaceae family. Grama, the collective name for members of the genus Bouteloua, is related to the bamboo family, which is also categorized as Poaceae. This warm-season plant is mainly grown as an ornamental grass in regions with mild climates, such as northern Texas in the United States, southern Canada, and Argentina. Its natural environment consists of rocky mountainous slopes and sandy clearings.

These herbaceous grasses grow in varying heights depending on their setting. Wild growing sideoats grama can reach heights of around 3 feet (0.9 m), while ornamentally cultivated ones grow to only about 1.5 feet (0.4 m). The foliage of this grass is blue-green and bears oat-like seeds along one side of its stalks that are most abundant through the beginning of spring and early summer. Shades of purple flowers also sprout from these grasses from July to August.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

The leaves of sideoats grama grow in clumps and can spread over a wide area of land. Landscapes in public parks and gardens, as well as private residences, often make use of these grasses as fillers or borders around larger plants, such as trees and shrubs. They can also be planted as turf grass; however, they may have to be mowed more frequently than other types of grass. Blades with multiple shades of orange and red appear every fall, changing simultaneously with the leaves of some trees and shrubs. Come winter, these grasses turn completely brown and remain dormant until the next season arrives.

Creeping rhizomes, the underground stems, help these grasses spread and multiply. New shoots of young plants are primarily observed in the summer and spring, when soil conditions are warm, dry, and slightly alkaline. Matured seeds that fall to the ground can also sprout young rhizomes that usually take three to five weeks to germinate. As a drought-tolerant grass, sideoats grama can be sufficiently maintained in full to partial exposure to sunlight with minimum watering.

Seeds from the stalks are used as food for livestock. Farms in Argentina often use this grass as a forage plant for cows and poultry. Dried sideoats grama sods are also used as temporary roofing materials for small huts and animal houses. Blades of dry grass from this herbaceous plant can also be utilized as arts and crafts materials for making baskets, bags, and other projects. Texas has adopted the sideoats grama plant as its state grass.

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Woman with a flower
      Woman with a flower