Sideoats Grama (Curtipendula)

The Sideoats Grama (Curtipendula) is generally described as a perennial graminoid. This is native to the U.S. (United States) has its most active growth period in the summer . The greatest bloom is usually observed in the mid spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the summer and continuing until fall. Leaves are not retained year to year. The Sideoats Grama (Curtipendula) has a moderate life span relative to most other plant species and a moderate growth rate. At maturity, the typical Sideoats Grama (Curtipendula) will reach up to 3 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 0 inches.

The Sideoats Grama (Curtipendula) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by seed. It has a slow ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have medium vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -43°F. has medium tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Erosion Control: This grass is adapted to most soil conditions. Successful seedings are obtained in rocky, stony, or shallow soils. It is a fair to good erosion control plant when mixed with the other plants naturally associated with it.

Grazing: This is one of the most important range grasses. Although not as palatable as some of the smaller gramas, e.g. blue grama, it is more palatable than many of the other grass species. It produces a much greater volume of forage than blue grama, and this tends to make up for its slightly lower palatability. It remains green later in the fall and usually begins growth in the spring before other gramas. It cures well, and maintains a fairly high feeding value throughout the year.

Wildlife: Furnishes some forage for deer and antelope when green. Elk use this plant throughout the year.

General Characteristics

Bouteloua curtipendula, sideoats grama, is a medium-size perennial bunchgrass, 15 to 30 inches tall or occasionally taller. This is the largest and most coarse of the grama grasses. It has a bluish-green color, sometimes with a purplish cast (especially in the spring), and cures to a reddish-brown or straw color. Leaves are coarser than other species of gramas, straight, comparatively stiff, and mostly basal. Ten to thirty small, non-comb-like spikes are borne mostly along one side of each central seed stalk. These spikes drop when mature, leaving a long zigzag stalk.

Required Growing Conditions

Sideoats grama is found on rocky open slopes, woodlands, and forest openings up to an elevation of about 7,000 feet.

Sideoats grama is distributed throughout most of the United States.

Cultivation and Care

Seeding of improved strains of this grass is accomplished by drilling in firm, weed-free seedbeds at the rate of 2-1/2 to 5 pounds (or more) pure live seed per acre. Protect from grazing from date of seeding through the second growing season. Seedings should be delayed until good soil moisture is present.


It is considered threatened in several states.

General Upkeep and Control

Sideoats grama is not as resistant to grazing as blue grama because of its taller growth habit, but sideoats grama stays green longer and can be grazed for a longer period. Reduced forage production, carrying capacity, and loss in cattle weight is a direct result of overgrazing. Sideoats grama is a normal component of a large number of range sites. The grass lengthens the grazing season and increases forage production, in addition to providing variety in the feed. Sideoats grama will return to most ranges under good management. Practices that will bring the grass back include proper grazing use, planned grazing systems, and brush control.

Pests and Potential Problems There are no serious pests of sideoats grama.

Cultivars, Improved, and Selected Materials (and area of origin) Released cultivars include‘Butte’ (NE), ‘El Reno’ (OK), ‘Haskell’ (TX), ‘Niner’ (NM), ‘Premier’ (Mexico), ‘Trailway’ (NE), and ‘Vaughn’ (NM); informal releases include Killdeer (ND) and Pierre (SD); and source identified releases include Northern Iowa Germplasm, Central Iowa Germplasm, Southern Iowa Germplasm (all from IA). Seeds are available at most western commercial seed sources.

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Moderate
General Type Graminoid
Growth Period Summer
Growth Duration Perennial
Lifespan Moderate
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.
Commercial Availability Routinely Available
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Mid Spring
Displays Fall Colors No
Shape/Growth Form Rhizomatous
Drought Tolerance Medium
Shade Tolerance Intolerant
Height When Mature 3
Vegetative Spread None
Flower Color Yellow
Flower Conspicuousness No
Fruit/Seed Abundance Medium
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Summer Fall
Seed Spread Rate Slow
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Seed
Moisture Requirements Medium
Cold Stratification Required No
Minimum Temperature -43
Soil Depth for Roots 12
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Regrowth Rate Moderate
After-Harvest Resprout Ability No
Responds to Coppicing No
Growth Requirements
pH Range 5.5–8.5 pH
Precipitation Range 6–6 inches/yr
Planting Density 0–0 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Coarse, Fine, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 12
Minimum Frost-Free Days 150 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance Low
CaCO3 Tolerance Medium
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Palatability Medium
Fire Resistant No
Causes Livestock Bloating None

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database,
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA