On Thursday July 2nd, the Goldthwaite Welcome Center had its dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony. In honor of the event, I decided to showcase the Texas state grass as this week’s plant. Sideoats grama, Bouteloua curtipendula, grows actively in summer months because it thrives in warm, dry soils.
Growing up to 3ft in height, Bouteloua curtipendula is the tallest of the grama species. It is a great complimentary grass to plant with wildflowers because it is still short in spring months. The grass starts off a bluish-green color and then changes into a reddish-brown hue in fall. Sideoats grama produces oat-like seeds that hang down uniformly on one side of the seed stalk, hence its name.
Sideoats grama is drought-resistant because its deep rooting system allows the plant to access the subsurface soil. This makes it less dependent on the fluctuating moisture levels in the topsoil. In dry times, Bouteloua curtipendula is a desirable management grass because it grows abundantly where other grasses cannot. It seeds easily when conditions are favorable and is quick to become established. Many ranchers will seed this grass in old cropland fields or following brush management on rangelands. Sideoats grama also helps with erosion control.
During summer, sideoats grama produces high quality, nutritious feed for livestock making it one of the most important range grass species. This grass is not a preferred food choice by deer, but wild turkeys will eat seeds off the seedhead.
Republished with permission of the Goldthwaite Eagle. By Savannah Lane.