blue grama

(Bouteloua gracilis)

Conservation Status
blue grama
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N3N5 - Vulnerable to Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed


Blue grama is a relatively short, erect or ascending, long-lived, perennial grass that rises from fibrous roots and often a short, stout rhizome. It forms dense tufts or, under heavy grazing, sod. It is an important forage species and is prominent on the short-grass prairies of the Great Plains.

The culms are erect or ascending. They can be 6 to 24 tall but are usually no more than 12 in height. They are unbranched, have usually 2 or 3 nodes, and are not woody at the base. They are hairless between the lower nodes.

The leaves are mostly basal, ¾ to 6 long, 1 32 to 1 16 wide, and usually somewhat curled. They are flat or have margins that are rolled inward toward the upper side, especially toward the tip. The upper surface has short, soft hairs, especially near the base, or is rough to the touch with short, stiff hairs. The lower surface is smooth or lightly rough to the touch. The margins have short hairs near the base.

The leaf sheaths are open, rounded on the back, and mostly hairless. The lowermost sheath is sometimes sparsely covered on the inside with soft, straight hairs. The ligule is a dense fringe of short hairs. The collar is distinctly yellowish-green. There are no ear-like appendages (auricles) at the base of the blade.

The inflorescence is 1 to 6, usually no more than 4, loosely spaced spikes at the end of the stem. The spikes are 9 16 to 19 16 long and are straight at first, curling upward at maturity to resemble human eyelashes. Each spike has 20 to 60 densely packed spikelets arranged in 2 rows along one side of the central axis (rachis). The rachis does not extend past the uppermost spikelet.

The spikelets are about 3 16 long. The anthers are yellow. The upper glume is sparsely hairy along the midvein.

The fruit is grain about long.




6 to 12


Similar Species


Hairy grama (Bouteloua hirsuta var. hirsuta) spike rachis extends to beyond the uppermost spikelet forming a stiff bristle. The upper glume is densely hairy along the midvein.


Dry. Prairies.




July to September


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 28, 29, 30.









  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Liliopsida (monocots)  


Poales (grasses, sedges, cattails, and allies)  


Poaceae (grasses)  
  No Rank PACMAD clade  
  Subfamily Chloridoideae  
  Tribe Cynodonteae  
  Subtribe Boutelouinae  


Bouteloua (gramas)  



Actinochloa gracilis

Atheropogon gracilis

Atheropogon oligostachyus

Bouteloua gracilis

Bouteloua gracilis var. gracilis

Bouteloua gracilis var. major

Bouteloua gracilis f. pallida

Bouteloua gracilis var. stricta

Bouteloua major

Bouteloua oligostachya

Bouteloua oligostachya var. major

Bouteloua oligostachya var. pallida

Bouteloua stricta

Chondrosium gracile

Chondrosum gracile

Chondrosum gracile var. polystachyum

Chondrosum oligostachyum

Eutriana gracilis

Eutriana oligostachya


Common Names


blue grama

blue grama grass

eyelash grass

graceful grama grass










A small, ear-like projection at the base of a leaf or at the junction of a grass blade and stem.



The area on the back of a grass leaf at the junction of the sheath and the blade.



The hollow or pithy stem of a grass, sedge, or rush.



A chaffy, empty, sterile bract at the base of a grass spikelet. Glumes usually occur in pairs, but occasionally only one is present.



In grasses, a membranous appendage at the junction of the leaf and the leaf sheath, sometimes no more than a fringe of hairs.



The small swelling of the stem from which one or more leaves, branches, or buds originate.



The main axis of a compound leaf, appearing as an extension of the leaf stalk; the main axis of an inflorescence.



The lower part of the leaf that surrounds the stem.

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