Bouteloua curtipendula (Michx.) Torr.

sideoats grama

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Sideoats grama is common in the prairies of the Great Plains, and widespread elsewhere, but in New England it is rare. It is considered native to western Connecticut, where there are a handful of populations, but introduced to Maine in rare deposits of waste material including seeds. Its rarity may be due in part to its restriction to areas of high-pH soils and dry to sandy habitats. Dam building, shading due to forest succession, and invasive species are probable factors in sideoats grama decline.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), cliffs, balds, or ledges, floodplain (river or stream floodplains), meadows and fields, ridges or ledges, woodlands

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
Leaf blade width
1.4–7 mm
Inflorescence branches
the flowers are attached to branches rather than to the main axis of the inflorescence
Spikelet length
5.5–8 mm
Glume relative length
neither glume is quite as long as all of the florets
Awn on glume
the glume has no awn
One or more florets
  • there is more than one floret per spikelet
  • there is one floret per spikelet
Lemma awn length
Up to 6 mm
Leaf sheath hair type
there are no hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath
Leaf ligule length
0.3–0.5 mm
Anther length
1.5–3.5 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Anther length
    1.5–3.5 mm
    Anther number
    3
    Awn on glume
    the glume has no awn
    Floret lower bract texture
    • the lemma is hard and firm
    • the lemma is thin and flexible
    Floret types within spikelet
    there are at least two distinct forms of florets within one spikelet
    Glume relative length
    neither glume is quite as long as all of the florets
    Glume veins
    1
    Inflorescence arrangement
    the spikelets are uniform
    Inflorescence axis orientation
    the inflorescence axis is straight
    Inflorescence branch length
    0.5–4 cm
    Inflorescence branches
    the flowers are attached to branches rather than to the main axis of the inflorescence
    Inflorescence length
    130–300 mm
    Inflorescence type (general)
    the spikelets are borne on stalks or on branches
    Inflorescence type (specific)
    the inflorescence is branched and the branches all grow from the same side of the plant and look like spikes
    Inforescence position
    the spikelets are mainly carried at the end of the stem
    Lemma awn coiled
    the lemma awn is straight or twisted, but not coiled one half turn
    Lemma awn length
    Up to 6 mm
    Lemma awn number
    the lemma has more than one awn on it
    Lemma surface
    the surface of the lemma is relatively smooth (not counting any longitudinal veins or hairs)
    Lemma tip
    • the lemma tip is a simple point, with or without an awn (long narrow extension ending in a point)
    • the lemma tip is split into two or more points
    Lemma tip shape
    the lemma tip tapers to a narrow point (it may or may not also have an awn or teeth at the tip)
    Lemma vein number
    3
    Lemma vein orientation
    the veins on the lemma stay roughly parallel throughout
    Lower glume length
    2.5–6 mm
    Lower glume relative length
    the lower glume is one third to three quarters as long as the upper glume
    One or more florets
    • there is more than one floret per spikelet
    • there is one floret per spikelet
    Reproductive system
    all the flowers on the plant have both carpels and stamens (synoecious)
    Spikelet axis tip
    there is no extension of the spikelet axis beyond the tip of the spikelet
    Spikelet disintegration
    the spikelet breaks off below the glumes
    Spikelet length
    5.5–8 mm
    Spikelet number per node
    0
    Spikelets per panicle branch
    1–15
    Spikelets spiny
    the spikelets do not appear spiny
    Upper glume length
    5.5–8 mm
    Upper glume relative length
    the upper glume is more than one half as long as the lowest lemma
    Upper glume shape
    the upper glume is widest at or below the middle
  • Growth form
    Horizontal rooting stem
    no
    Lifespan
    the plant lives more than two years
    Rhizomes
    • no
    • yes
  • Leaves
    Leaf auricles
    the leaves do not have auricles
    Leaf blade cross-section
    the leaf blade is more or less flat in cross-section, or slightly folded or rolled inwards
    Leaf blade hairs
    • the leaf blade is hairless, but it may have tiny prickles that give it a sand-papery feel
    • the leaf blade is hairy
    Leaf blade length
    2–30 cm
    Leaf blade texture
    • the leaf blade is rough and sandpapery
    • the leaf blade is smooth, or it may have soft hairs
    Leaf blade width
    1.4–7 mm
    Leaf ligule length
    0.3–0.5 mm
    Leaf ligule type
    the leaf ligule is in the form of a membrane with fine hairs
    Leaf sheath closed around stem
    the margins of the leaf sheath are overlapping and not fused together except in the basal half (or less)
    Leaf sheath hair type
    there are no hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath
    Leaf sheath hairs
    there are no hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    Specific habitat
    • cliffs, balds, or ledges
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • meadows or fields
    • ridges or ledges
    • river or stream floodplains
    • woodlands
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Plant height
    8–80 cm
    Stem orientation
    • the stems are upright
    • the stems trail at the base, but turn upwards at the tips
    Stem spacing
    • the stems grow close together in compact clusters or tufts
    • the stems grow singly or a few together (they may form diffuse colonies)

Wetland Status

Not classified

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
absent
New Hampshire
absent
Rhode Island
absent
Vermont
absent

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Connecticut
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), endangered (code: E)

Native to North America?

Yes and no (some introduced)

Sometimes Confused With

Bouteloua rigidiseta:
inflorescence with mostly 6-12 branches and central awn of lowest lemma of spikelet arising from between two membranous lobes, therefore the lemma with a total of 5 apical lobes (vs. B. curtipendula, with the inflorescence with mostly 30-80 branches and central awn of lowest lemma not flanked by lateral lobes, therefore the lemma with a total of 3 apical lobes).
Bouteloua repens:
inflorescence with mostly 6-12 branches and central awn of lowest lemma of spikelet arising from between two membranous lobes, therefore the lemma with a total of 5 apical lobes (vs. B. curtipendula, with the inflorescence with mostly 30-80 branches and central awn of lowest lemma not flanked by lateral lobes, therefore the lemma with a total of 3 apical lobes).

Synonyms

  • Atheropogon curtipendulus (Michx.) Fourn.
  • Chloris curtipendula Michx.

Family

Poaceae

Genus

Bouteloua

Notes on Subspecies and Varieties in New England

Our variety is Bouteloua curtipendula (Michx.) Torr. var. curtipendula.

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

1.  Bouteloua curtipendula (Michx.) Torr. var. curtipendula nC

sideoats grama. Atheropogon curtipendulus (Michx.) Fourn.; Chloris curtipendula Michx. • CT, ME; western portion of CT. Native habitats include dry-mesic to xeric open woodlands and balds, sandy fields, river banks in areas of high-pH bedrock; introduced to ME on wool waste and seeded areas.