Sideoats grama

(Bouteloua curtipendula (Michx.) Torr.)




Synonyms
Chloris curtipendula Michx.
Description
Sideoats grama is a medium-sized, warm season perennial bunchgrass, 15 to 30 inches tall, occasionally taller. This is the largest and coarsest of the grama grasses. Its straight, stiff, mostly basal foliage is bluish-green, sometimes with a purplish cast in the spring, curing to a reddish brown or straw color. The leaf blades have few to many still hairs on small, swollen bumps on the leaf margins. Ten to thirty small, non-comb-like spikes are borne along the side of each culm. They have pendulous, r ed stamens when in flower. These spikes drop when mature, leaving a long, zigzag stalk.
Distribution and habitat
Sideoats grama occurs over most of the state on dry grassy, shrubby and open slopes, woodlands, and forest openings up to an elevation of about 7,000 feet. It flowers from July to September.
General information
This is one of our most important range grasses. Although not as palatable as some of the smaller gramas like blue grama and slender grama, it is more palatable than many other grasses. The leaves are much more palatable than stems, which are usually not eaten when mature. It produces a much greater volume of feed than blue grama, which tends to make up for its lower palatability. It also remains green later in the fall and usually begins growth in the spring before the other gramas. When rains occur in the early spring, sideoats grama can provide green forage when other food is scarce. In some areas it is important summer forage when cool-season grasses are dormant, providing its highest quality forage during the month of July. It cures well, and mai ntains a fairly high feeding value throughout the year. Sideoats grama is not as resistant to grazing as blue grama. This may be because sideoats stays green longer and is grazed for a longer period. Sideoats is a normal component of most Arizona grasslan d ranges, and these ranges are not in excellent condition without an abundance of the grass. Sideoats will return to most ranges under good management. Practices that will bring the grass back include moderation in stocking levels, occasional summer defer ment, and brush control.