sideoats grama grass

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama) is one of the great native grasses found at Lurie Garden. Birds are attracted to the plant as a source of seed and nesting material. Caterpillars of the dotted skipper butterfly (Hesperia attalus) occasionally use B. curtipendula as a food source.

This Poaceae is native to prairies and open woodlands throughout the United States and southern Canada, including Illinois. Sideoats grama is a clump-forming grass that grows up to 1 m (2.5 ft.) tall, with clumps reaching up to 0.5 m (2 ft.) wide. In the garden setting, plants tolerate a wide range of soil types. Being a prairie-adapted species, B. curtipendula is highly drought-tolerant once established.

Flowers are produced in July-August on arching oat-like spikes, with individual flowers hanging from one side of the inflorescence only. This characteristic gives B. curtipendula its common name, sideoats grama. Individual flowers are purple-tinged and quite small. Sideoats grama brings tremendous fall and winter interest to the garden, with leaves turning brown and flowering spikes turning a dull tan. Both leaves and flowering spikes persist throughout the winter.

Botanical Name Bouteloua curtipendula
Common Name sideoats grama grass
Family Poaceae
USDA Zone 4 to 9
Light Requirement Full Sun
Season(s) of interest Summer, Fall, Winter
Height and Spread
1.5-2.5ft x 1.5-2ft (45-75cm x 45-60cm)
Flower Color
Attracts Wildlife
Attracts Pollinators, hosts several species of moths, provides food for birds.
Additional Information Native to the Chicago Region
Location in Lurie Garden Northwest Light Plate