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How to Identify Side Oats Grama

Side Oats Grama, Bouteloua curtipendula, is a native, warm season grass found throughout Illinois. It is a bunchgrass that grows two to three feet tall, and the young leaves have a distinctive trait. Along the edges of the leaf blades look for small glands, each with a single hair on top of them. You can also find a short hairy ligule.

When in bloom, Side Oats Grama produces a raceme inflorescence. The rachis, or the stem of that inflorescence, is often zigzag-shaped and curves to one side. The spikelets are held in small clusters and they have short awns. They're typically green to reddish in color, turning brown in the fall.

This video is part of the Grasses at a Glance series by Natural Resources, Environment, and Energy Educator Erin Garrett, University of Illinois Extension. Explore the playlist. Read our blog, Grasses at a Glance.