Bouteloua gracilis

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: blue grama 
Type: Ornamental grass
Family: Poaceae
Native Range: Southern and western United States, Mexico
Zone: 3 to 10
Height: 0.75 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to August
Bloom Description: Reddish-purple
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy, Good Dried
Attracts: Birds
Tolerate: Drought, Erosion, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil, Black Walnut, Air Pollution


Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates a wide range of soils, except poorly-drained, wet ones. Excellent drought tolerance. Freely self-seeds. Cut to the ground in late winter before new shoots appear.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Bouteloua gracilis, commonly called blue grama or mosquito grass, is a tufted, warm season, Missouri native grass noted for its distinctive arrangement of mosquito larvae-like seed spikes which hang from only one side of its flowering stems. It is native to prairies, plains, open rocky woodlands and along railroad tracks throughout the Western U.S. It was a dominant grass of the dry shortgrass prairies. Narrow, bluish-gray leaf blades (to 1/4” wide) typically form a dense clump growing 12-15" tall. Foliage turns golden brown in autumn, sometimes also developing interesting hues of orange and red. Inflorescences of purplish-tinged flowers appear on arching stems above the foliage in early to mid summer, typically bringing the total height of the clump to 20" tall.

Genus name honors two Spanish brothers Claudius (d. 1842) and Exteban Boutelou (d. 1813) professors of botany and agriculture respectively.

Specific epithet from Latin means slender or graceful.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Small size makes blue grama grass an excellent selection for rock gardens where it can be used as a specimen or in small groups. Also an excellent choice for naturalized areas, native plant gardens, unmowed meadows, prairie areas or other informal areas in the landscape, especially where drought tolerant plants are needed. Can also be grown as a turf grass and regularly mowed to 2 inches high. Flower spikes are an excellent addition for dried flower arrangements.