IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

Comprehensive Description

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General: Blue grama is a major warm season grass found throughout the Great Plains. It is found on the plains, prairies, and foothills of most western states. It is short (6 to 24 inches) stature and perennial with a prolific root system. This species has some phenotypic plasticity since in the southern states it grows normally as a bunch grass, but in the northern states and in the mountains, or in areas under heavy grazing pressure it is a sod former. Phenotypic plasticity is the ability of an organism to alter its physiology or morphology in response to changes in environmental conditions (Schlichting, 1986). Blue grama possesses the C-4 photosynthetic pathway for carbon fixation (Waller and Lewis, 1979).

Distribution: For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site. Blue grama is a major species of the western Great Plains and southwestern United States. It is also found growing in Mexico and the Canadian Provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Habitat: Blue grama is most effective when grown in the dryer parts of the northern and southern Great Plains and southwestern region of the U.S. It naturally grows in mixed stands, primarily with buffalograss (Bouteloua dactyloides), needle-and-thread ( Hesperostipa comata), western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii), and green needlegrass (Nassella viridula)in a short grass prairie setting.

It will be associated with other species such as prairie sandreed and sand sagebrush in a sandier habitat.


Public Domain

USDA NRCS Plant Materials Center, Manhattan, Kansas.

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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