Deborah Canterbury, 2014
This year’s pin is the Side-Oats Grama, the state grass. So, here is your did-ja-know re: side-oats gramma.
First, local information. Dave Powell says that side-oats grama is on the three locations at which he volunteers/manages. “We seeded Wylie, it was already at Erwin Park in McKinney. All of the prairies at the Heard are at some stage of restoration however, it could have been on the edge of the pastures.”
Bob Mione said it is there as well. “We do have side-oats at the Connemara. So far, I have not seen it spread by itself. We do really well by seeding and irrigation.”
Now, from Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: Side-oats grama is a bunchy or sod-forming grass with 2-3 ft. stems in erect, wiry clumps. Purplish, oat-like spikelets uniformly line one side of the stem, bleaching to a tan color in the fall. The basal foliage often turns shades of purple and red in fall. This is a perennial warm season grass; clump forming. Two varieties are recognized: variety curtipendula is shorter and more rhizomatous and ranges from southern Canada to Argentina. Variety caespitosa spreads more by seed than by rhizomes, is more of a bunchgrass, and is restricted mostly to southwestern North America.
Not only is Side-oats Grama the state grass of Texas, but this medium-tall grass mixes well in plantings with spring wildflowers, because it stays short in the spring. Birds love the ripe seeds. This plant increases rapidly in nature when its site is damaged by drought or grazing.