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TREES & plants

Buffalograss

Buffalograss used as a lawn.

Buffalograss is native to the western areas of the tallgrass prairie.  It is sometimes listed as native to the Chicago region, but it is thought to be introduced from further west.  This is a low-growing, warm season, running grass.

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.

 

Botanical name: 
Buchloe dactyloides
All Common Names: 
Buffalograss
Family (English): 
Grass
Family (Botanic): 
Poaceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Grass, 
  • Ground cover, 
  • Perennial
Native Locale: 
  • Illinois, 
  • North America
Landscape Uses: 
  • Massing, 
  • Mixed border, 
  • Patio/sidewalk
Size Range: 
  • Small plant (6-12 inches), 
  • Low-growing plant (under 6 inches)
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 2, 
  • Zone 3, 
  • Zone 4, 
  • Zone 5 (Chicago), 
  • Zone 6, 
  • Zone 7, 
  • Zone 8, 
  • Zone 9
Soil Preference: 
  • Dry soil, 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Season of Interest: 
  • Mid spring, 
  • Late spring, 
  • Early summer, 
  • Mid summer, 
  • Late summer
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Other
Shape or Form: 
  • Creeping
More Information: 

Size and Form

Buffalograss is a low-growing (4 to 6 inches tall) grass that will slowly spread by stolons.

Plant Care

Buffalograss requires full sun and is very tolerant of drought.
It can be used as a ground cover or a low maintenance lawn, but does have some limitations in this regard.  This grass will be dormant from mid-fall to mid-spring and will be straw colored at that time.  It does not tolerate high moisture conditions or heavy foot traffic.

Disease, pests, and problems

No serious disease or insect problems. 
Stolons can spread this grass into areas where it is not wanted.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to a large portion of the Midwestern and Western United State.  Common in arid zones.

Leaf description

The leaves of this grass are very fine, only 1/8 inch wide and 3 to 6 inches long.  The gray green leaves curl a little.  The leaves will be straw-colored from mid-fall to mid-spring.

Flower description

Flowering occurs at different times over the wide native range of this plant.  In the Midwest, the majority of flowering will occur May through July.  Male and female flowers usually occur on separate plants (dioecious), but some plant may produce both male and female flowers (monoecious).  Flowers are tiny.  Many flowers are held in two-rowed clusters while female flowers are clustered into groups.  The flowers are wind pollinated.

Fruit description

The small fruit (caryopsis or grains) are held in bur-like clusters. 

Cultivars and their differences 

Cody (Buchloe dactyloides 'Cody'):  This cultivar has several improved characteristics, including faster establishment, darker color (blue-green), higher density, good cold tolerance and excellent drought tolerance.

Legacy (Buchloe dactyloides 'Legacy'):  Dark blue green color and soft narrow blades.  All female plants.

Texoka (Buchloe dactyloides 'Texoka'):  This cultivar contains a mix ten different selections of buffalo grass from Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.  Adaptable to most of the United States.

Buchloe dactyloides or Buffalograss

We do not seem to have this in our living collection.