Black grama

(Bouteloua eriopoda (Torr.) Torr.)




Synonyms
Chondrosum eriopodum Torr.
Description
Black grama is a tangled, perennial sodgrass, forming large bunches one to two feet tall. The grass spreads by wiry stolons. The bent culm bases and lower nodes are covered with a fine, white fuzz. The inconspicuous grayish-green black grama leaves ar e a little over 1/16 inch wide, 1 to 5 inches long, inrolled and, wavy. Three or more moderately comb-like, slender spikes, borne on the sides of the culm, constitute the inflorescence. These spikes are very narrow and do not drop away at maturity. The le mma has a stout central awn up to 3 mm long. More visible are the three awns of the incomplete florets, which are little else but awn.
Distribution and habitat
Although originally much more abundant than it is today, this grass is still fairly common over much of its range. Black grama is distributed throughout Arizona between 3,500 and 6,000 feet. It thrives best in open grasslands on dry, gravelly or sandy soils. Black grama flowers from June to August.
General information
Black grama is one of our best forage grasses for all livestock classes. It produces an abundance of vegetation that remains palatable and nutritious throughout the year. Although less palatable than other gramas during the summer, it cures well and p rovides excellent fall, winter, and spring feed. The stems are usually green even when the plants are not actively growing, a feature that makes this grass particularly valuable as winter forage. Overall, black grama is one of the most nutritious desert w inter grasses for livestock. Black grama is tolerant of light grazing, but extremely impaired by heavy (especially summer) grazing, because the stolons are very susceptible to grazing and trampling damage. To encourage vegetative reproduction, removal of no more than 35% of total annual production is recommended. Ranges on which black grama is a major component of the vegetation should be reserved for winter range if possible.