Buffalograss: Distribution, Habitat, Classification, Characteristics, and, Uses

Buffalograss: Distribution, Habitat, Classification, Characteristics, and, Uses


Buffalograss is an indigenous, warm-season, stoloniferous perennial that reaches heights of 4 to 6 inches. The length and width of the leaf blade are 3 to 6 inches. A row of short hairs forms the ligule. It is a dioecious plant. The seed head is supported by a spike on both sexes. The male blooms have two or three small spikes on slender, upright stems, while the female flowers are burs partially concealed amid the leaves (Leithead et al., 1971).


Buffalograss can be found throughout North America, from Central Mexico northward through the Chihuahuan and Great Plains grasslands of the United States to the southernmost prairie provinces of Canada. It is a rare species in Canada, only occurring in southwestern Manitoba and southeast Saskatchewan. Canada is home to less than 1% of the world’s population.

Habitat: Buffalograss grows on clay soils in locations with moderate to low rainfall (15 to 30 inches per year) and may withstand alkaline soils (Duble, 2012). (University of Wyoming, 2013).


Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Poales

Family: Poaceae

Genus: Bouteloua

Species: B. dactyloides

Scientific Name: Buchloe dactyloides

Common Name: Buffalograss


1. Buffalograss is a perennial grass with curly leaves that is low-growing, stoloniferous (bears runners), and forms dense, clonal mats.

2. A perennial shortgrass with warm-season growth, buffalograss. It can withstand heat, cold, and drought.

3. Although it can reach 30 cm in the southern Great Plains, foliage is typically 5-13 cm (2.0-5.1 in) high (12 in).

4. Although normally dioecious, buffalograss can occasionally be monoecious or have perfect blooms.

4. The height of a flower stem is 10–20 cm (3.9–7.9 in). The female inflorescence is made up of short spikelets that are carried in burlike clusters, often with two to four spikelets per bur, as opposed to the male inflorescence, which is a panicle.

5. Buffalograss occasionally also generates rhizomes in addition to its profusion of branching stolons. Additionally, many roots cover the soil completely. The numerous stolons and roots make a dense sod. Buffalograss roots are finer than those of most plains grasses, being less than 1 mm (0.039 in) in diameter.

6. The species is generally dioecious, meaning that distinct plants produce male (staminate) and female (pistillate) flowers.

7. Male plants have upright, slender stems that are usually between 6 and 12 cm tall and that contain 1-3, 1-sided spikes that are around 1 centimeter long. The short, frequently prostrate stems of the pistillate plants carry flower clusters that stick together to form hard, spherical “burs,” which later serve as the seed dissemination units.

8. Buffalograss can reproduce sexually by producing seeds from outcrossing by wind pollination as well as vegetatively by building dense clonal mats.

9. Herbivores and water spread the seed-containing burs.

10. With a maximum life expectancy of 35 years, the average lifespan is roughly 2.16 years.

11. The viability of the seeds is predicted to be between 25 and 35 years.


Livestock: Buffalograss is a key component of the shortgrass and mixed grass prairies and is mostly used for range grazing. (1971; Leithead et al.; 1995; Howard). All types of livestock eat buffalograss. It is regarded as high-quality fodder, and curing has little effect on its nutritional value (Hitchcock, 1951).

Wildlife: Several prairie animal species, including white-tailed deer, bison, and prairie dogs, eat buffalograss (Chamrad and Box, 1968; Clippinger, 1989; Duble, 2012). The Green Skipper uses this plant as a larval host (Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, 2013). Grasshoppers such as the White-whiskered grasshopper, Red-winged grasshopper, Carolina grasshopper, Slantfaced Pasture grasshopper, Large-headed grasshopper, and Mottled Sand grasshopper consume buffalograss leaf (Illinois Wildflowers, 2012).

Landscaping: Buffalograss is becoming more and more popular as a low-traffic alternative to warm-season non-native grasses like bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon), St. Augustine (Stenotaphrum secundatum), and zoysia (Zoysia japonica) (Huang, 1999 and Mintenko et al., 2002). Buffalograss grows more slowly than other non-native turfgrasses that are sold commercially, according to Johnson et al. (2000). According to Biran et al. (1981), shorter, denser grasses tend to have low evapotranspiration (ET) rates while tall, sparse warm-season grasses tend to have high ET rates. Under consistent and ideal growing conditions, Beard and Kim (1989) and Kim (1983) found that buffalograss had lower ET and slower growth rates than typical bermudagrass (C. dactylon).

Erosion Control: Buffalograss grows into a thick sod that prevents soil erosion. The plants produce a large number of fine, strong, wiry roots that pierce the soil 4 to 6 feet deep. About 70% (by weight) of the roots of buffalograss plants were found in the first 6 inches of the soil profile in a study on Holdrege silt loam and Chernozem Wabash silt loam (Weaver, 1958).

Ecosystem benefits: The central United States is home to buffalograss. Before the turn of the century, large herds of bison could be supported on buffalograss, which is still highly regarded as a good forage grass due to its rich sod and tolerance to grazing (Riordan and Browning 2003). Early settlers had access to buffalograss sod as a building material (Riordan and Browning 2003). It is used to seed grass waterways on farms, lawns, and recreational places (Leithead et al. 1971). It is associated with many useful arthropods, including spiders, predatory ants, ground beetles, rove beetles, big-eyed bugs, and several kinds of hymenopterous parasitoids (Riordan and Browning 2003, Carstens et al. 2007).


Buffalograss can be planted directly or spread out using sod and vegetative plugs. Before planting, a soil study should be done to identify the appropriate levels of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Nitrogen should not be added to the seed after the stand has taken root. Before planting in the spring, the seedbed should start to be prepared. Either tillage or herbicides can be used to create a seedbed that is clear of weeds. The soil must be firm and have accumulated enough moisture before planting.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Is Buffalo grass summer or winter?

Ans: Summer

Question: Is Buffalo grass native to the United States?

Ans: Yes

Question: Will Buffalo grass choke out weeds?

Ans: Yes

Question: Is Buffalo grass easy to grow?

Ans: Yes

Question: When should Buffalo grass be planted?

Ans: Buffalograss seed can be sown anytime between early spring and late July.

Question: Does Buffalo grass have deep roots?

Ans: Yes

Question: What grass is best for dog urine?

Ans: Perennial ryegrass

Question: Which is better Buffalo grass or Bermuda grass?

Ans: Bermuda grass

Question: What type of soil is best for Buffalo grass?

Ans: Sandy soil

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