Blue Grama

Bouteloua gracilis

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General Description

Blue grama is short growing with smooth flat or loosely curled/twisted leaves. Leaves on average 5-10 cm (2-4 in) long. Seed heads are curved and resemble an eyelash. Blue grama is a bunchgrass that tillers to form a sod mat with shallow roots.  


Native grass.


Mixed grass prairie.




Reclamation, pasture.

Optimal Time of Use

Summer, fall. Blue grama is a “warm season (C4) grass” and grows primarily during mid to late summer. A pure stand of blue grama is best grazed summer or fall. When blue grama is seeded in a mix, time grazing for the other species in the mix.

Recovery After Use

Blue grama takes approximately fourteen months to fully recover from grazing.

Palatability/Nutritional Value

Blue grama has a peak digestibility of 50% in July and lows of 40% in October. Crude protein levels range from 5-9%.

Annual Precipitation min/max (mm)

200mm / 560mm

Drought Tolerance

Very drought tolerant.

Flooding Tolerance

Tolerates approximately one week of saturated soils in the spring.

Winter Hardiness

High winter hardiness.

Soil Texture Preference

Blue grama is suited to well drained sandy to clay soils in the Brown and Dark Brown soil zones. Blue grama is found in native pastures on well drained and dry soils on hillsides and hill tops and south facing slopes.

Erosion Control

Blue grama is best used in mixes with other native grasses for erosion control. It stabilizes soil by forming a thick, sod.

Salinity Tolerance

Low salinity tolerance.

Acidity Tolerance

Slight tolerance.

Alkalinity Tolerance

Moderate tolerance.

Seeds per kg

1,596,000 seeds/kg (724,400 seeds/lb)

Suggested Mixtures

Blue grama may be mixed with native species in a pasture or reclamation mix. It is one of the few warm season grasses with broad adaptation for the prairies.

Ease of Establishment

Blue grama is slow to establish. Seeds are very small and seedlings are delicate.


Once established, blue grama forms a thick sod that is not easily invaded by other plants and increases in overgrazed pastures.

Management Considerations

Allow for adequate rest following defoliation.

AESB Native Manual, Seeding Natives (Sask AG/GAPT), Saskatchewan Dryland Forage Species Adaptation Tool

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