Grasses

BERMUDA GRASSES

BERMUDA GRASS

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Bermudagrass, is of probable Asian origin and was documented as an important grass in the United States by l807. It is a long-lived, warm season perennial that spreads by rhizomes, stolons, and seed. Stems are leafy, branched, and 4 to 6 inches tall. Under favorable conditions, stems may be 12 to 18 inches high. Stems are short jointed. Leaves are flat and spreading. The ligule is a circle of white hairs. Leaves may be hairy or smooth. Seedheads are usually in one whorl of 3 to 7 spikes, each about 1 to 2-1/2 inches long. Some robust forms may have up to 10 spikes in 2 whorls.

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NATIVE GRASSES

BIG BLUESTEM

Big bluestem is a perennial warm-season grass. It can be distinguished from other warm-season grasses by blue coloration at the base of the culm and purplish, 3-parted flower clusters that resemble a turkey’s foot. The culms are erect, up to 3 m tall, stout, and are usually covered with a blue-tinted waxy layer. Leaf blades are flat.

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Cane
Kaw
Earl
Sand Woodward

BLUE GRAMA

Blue grama, is a major warm season grass found throughout the Great Plains. The plant is fairly short, reaching 10 to 20 inches with narrow basal leaves of 3 to 6 inches. Blue grama grows in definite bunches and reproduces by tillering and by seed. Mature seed heads are curved, resembling a human eyebrow. Blue grama can be found growing in association with buffalograss, western wheatgrass, needlegrasses and in some areas the bluegrasses.

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Native

BUFFALO GRASS

Buffalograss is a native, warm season, stoloniferous perennial that grows 4 to 6 inches in height. The leaf blade is 1/8 inch wide and 3 to 6 inches long. The ligule is a row of short hair. The plant is dioecious. Both sexes have a spike for the seed head. The female flowers are burs partially hidden among the leaves and the male flowers have 2 or 3 short spikes on slender, erect stems (Leithead et al., 1971).

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INDIAN GRASS

Indiangrass, Sorghastrum nutans, is a native warm-season, bunch grass. At maturity in September, this grass is golden, plume-like head and reddish-yellow foliage making it one of the most beautiful of the native grasses. It is adapted to a wide rage of soils, thriving on well drained bottom land, but can also grow in sandy soils.

GREEN SPANGLETOP

Green Sprangletop is a native, perennial warm season bunchgrass with fibrous roots. Mature plants are short-lived and average 2-5 feet in height. The leaf blade is 6-8 inches long and will be either flat or folded. The seed head is an open, spreading penicle 4-12 inches long. Green Sprangletop can produce two seed crops per year with adequate moisture. There are approximately 538,000 seeds per pound.

KLEINGRASS

Kleingrass is a warm-season perennial bunchgrass introduced from Africa. Introductions were made as early as 1942, but it was not until the 1950’s that desirable types were

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LITTLE BLUESTEM

Little bluestem is a medium height grass with coarse stems and basal leaves. As a warm season grass it begins growth in late spring and continues through the hot summer period until the first killing frost. It is easily mistaken for common broomsedge.

Little bluestem has very flat bluish basal shoots. Plants are green, but often purplish at base of stem and the entire plant has a reddish cast after frost. Leaves are smooth, but frequently are covered with hair at the base next to the sheath. Leaves tend to fold with maturity. Seed head clusters about three inches long. The cluster stems are hairy. Plant height varies from 18 inches on droughty sites to 3 feet on deep, fertile soils. There are 255,000 seeds per pound.

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PLAINS BRISTLEGRASS

Plains Bristlegrass is a native, warm season, perennial bunchgrass which turns a pale yellow at maturity. It has stiffly erect stems and can grow up to four feet in height. Leaf blades are narrow, about ¼ inch wide, 3 to 10 inches long, with a ligule that has dense hairs. The upper sides of the leaf blades have abundant hairs. Plants produce a densely flowered, compressed seedhead that is 3-5 inches long and only about a ¼ inch thick (Gould, 1975).

SAND BLUESTEM

Sand bluestem is a native, perennial, warm season bunch grass. Plants are glaucous; culms robust, often growing in large tufts, with prominent rhizomes reaching 4 to 8 inches in length and conspicuous hairy pedicels, rachis joints and seed heads. In the best growing conditions it can reach 7 feet in height. It has a J-shaped stem base, and the culms are solid, and grooved on one side. The leaf blades have margins with none to few hairs, have prominent midribs, strongly ridged on the upper surface but not below. The leaf collar is often hirsute. Most leaves are found near the base.

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SIDE-OATS GRAMA

Side-oats grama is a deep rooted, perennial grass. The plants crown will spread very slowly by means of extremely short, stout rhizomes. A midgrass in height, it has rather wide leaves and a very distinct inflorescence consisting of a zigzag stalk with small compressed spikes dangling from it at even intervals. The short spikes dangle from one side of the stalk, thus providing the plant with its common name. In the vegetative state the grass is easily recognized by the long, evenly spaced hairs attached to the margins of the leaf near its base. Side-oats grama possesses the C-4 photosynthetic pathway common to warm-season grasses (Waller and Lewis, 1979).

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SWITCHGRASS

Switchgrass is native in the continental United States except California and the Pacific Northwest. It is a perennial bunch grass averaging 3 to 5 feet tall and may spread from short, stout rhizomes. The stem (culm) is round and can have a red to straw colored tint. The seed head is an open, spreading panicle.

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Blackwell

Cool Season & Reclamation Grasses

KENTUCKY BLUEGRASS

Kentucky bluegrass, is a perennial, cool-season, sod-forming grass native to Europe. Seedhead stems are 18 to 24 inches tall, but can be 4 to 6 inches in height when used for intensive grazing. The seedhead has an open shape like a pyramid and produces many small seeds. There are approximately 2,177,000 seeds per pound. Leaves are 6 to 12 inches long and boat-shaped (keeled) at the tips. Leaves are smooth, soft, and about 1/8 to 1/4 inch wide.

The plant becomes dormant during the heat of summer, but regains or maintains its green color in fall. Growth starts early in the spring. Tiller buds develop into stems or rhizomes. New rhizomes also arise from nodes of older rhizomes. Most rhizomes penetrate 2 to 4 inches into the soil, but some will go down more than 5 inches.

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