Herbs & Plants

Bouteloua gracilis

Botanical Name: Bouteloua gracilis
Family: Poaceae
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Poales
Genus: Bouteloua
Species: B. gracilis

Synonyms: Bouteloua oligostachya.

Common Names: Blue grama

Habitat: Bouteloua gracilis is native to North America. It is most commonly found from Alberta, Canada, east to Manitoba and south across the Rocky Mountains, Great Plains, and U.S. Midwest states, onto the northern Mexican Plateau in Mexico. It grows on deserts and prairies. Grows in pure stands in mixed prairie associations and disturbed habitats, usually on rocky or clay soils and mainly at elevations of 300-3000 metres.

Bouteloua gracilis is a perennial plant.
. It is in flower from July to August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Wind.

Blue grama has green to greyish leaves less than 3 mm (0.1 in) wide and 1 to 10 in (25 to 250 mm) long. The overall height of the plant is 6 to 12 in (15 to 30 cm) at maturity.

The flowering stems (culms) are 7 to 18 in (18 to 46 cm) long. At the top are one to four, usually two, comb-like spikes, which extend out at a sharp angle from the flowering stem. Each spike has 20 to 90 spikelets.[6] Each spikelet is 5 to 6 mm (0.20 to 0.24 in) long, and has one fertile floret and one or two reduced sterile ones. Below the florets are two glumes, one 1.5 to 3 mm (0.06 to 0.12 in) long and the other 3.5 to 6 mm (0.14 to 0.24 in) long. The fertile floret has a lemma (bract) 5 to 5.5 mm (0.20 to 0.22 in) long, with three short awns (bristles) at the tip, and the sterile floret has a lemma about 2 mm (0.08 in) long with three awns about 5 mm (0.2 in) long. If pollinated, the fertile floret produces an oblong-elliptic brown seed 2.5 to 3 mm (0.10 to 0.12 in) long. When the seed is mature, the whole spikelet detaches, except for the two glumes, which remain.

The roots generally grow 12 to 18 in (30 to 46 cm) outwards, and 3 to 6.5 ft (0.9 to 2.0 m) deep.

Blue grama is readily established from seed, but depends more on vegetative reproduction via tillers. Seed production is slow, and depends on soil moisture and temperature. Seeds dispersed by wind only reach a few meters (6 ft); farther distances are reached with insects, birds, and mammals as dispersal agents. Seedling establishment, survival, and growth are greatest when isolated from neighboring adult plants, which effectively exploit water in the seedling’s root zone. Successful establishment requires a modest amount of soil moisture during the extension and development of adventitious roots.


Established plants are grazing-, cold-, and drought-tolerant, though prolonged drought leads to a reduction in root number and extent. They employ an opportunistic water-use strategy, rapidly using water when available, and becoming dormant during less-favorable conditions. In terms of successional status, blue grama is a late seral to climax species. Recovery following disturbance is slow and depends on the type and extent of the disturbance.

Easily grown in full sun on any well-drained garden soil. Prefers a near-neutral or lime-free soil. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c. All members of this genus use the method of photosynthesis knwn as C4. This allows for the more effective capture of carbon dioxide and thus less water loss through transpiration since the stomata do not have to be open for transpiration. This is an advantage in the arid environments where these plants are usually found.

Edible Uses:
Seed – raw or cooked. It can be ground into a powder, mixed with water and eaten as a mush, often with corn meal. It is also used to make bread.

Medicinal Uses:
The chewed roots have been applied to cuts. A decoction of the whole plant has been used as a post-partum medicine.

Other Uses:
The grass is sometimes used in the fill of coiled basketry. The stems can be used as a comb and broom material. The blades can be bundled by a cord and the stiff end used as a hair comb whilst the other end can be used as a broom.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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