Blue Grama

Bouteloua gracilis (Willd. ex Kunth) Lag. ex Griffiths



Blue Grama is a dominant and important grass of the short and mixed-grass prairies. In Texas, it grows in tufts with erect stems usually not more than 2 ft or 60 cm tall. It typically has short, stout rhizomes and a prolific root system  Its leaves are mainly basal and only a few millimeters wide and perhaps 10 to 15 cm long. The leaves have a few hairs at the junction of the blade and sheath.  Each stem typically has two spikes (sometimes three and rarely up to six) that look like rooster combs or eyebrows and curve downward when mature. Each spike has 40 to 90 spikelets which go all the way to the end of the branch. This distinguishes Blue Grama from Tall and Hairy Grama whose rachis stick out forming a stinger.  Blue grama is a perennial, warm-season, native providing good grazing for both livestock and wildlife. While it has low forage productivity in some areas, it provides abundant forage in the Trans-Pecos. Forage production is maximized by having at least 14 inches of rain in the hottest part of the summer. Then, growth begins in early summer, and Blue Grama matures in just two months. 


Grows on open, grassy plains and hills and decreases with heavy grazing but not as much as Black Grama. Blue Grama survives extreme drought. It prefers well-drained soils and will not tolerate wet conditions, thick shade, or acidic soils.