Native Grasses

Cool Season Native Grasses

A plant that makes most of its growth and flowers during spring and slows growth or becomes dormant during the hot part of the summer, and may resume growth in the fall with the advent of cool temperatures.

Western Wheatgrass

  • Western Wheatgrass is a native, cool season perennial, sod forming grass which reproduces from underground rhizomes and seeds
  • Western Wheatgrass spreads rapidly and forms a dense sod, making it valuable for erosion control
  • It produces an abundance of forage early in the season that is nutritious and readily eaten by livestock until late summer when it becomes harsh and fibrous
  • It makes a good quality hay if cut during the late bloom stand and can stand close grazing
  • Western Wheatgrass will do well on a wide range of soils, from sands to clay
  • It is very tolerant to alkali
  • This grass can be seeded in pure stands but is usually used in mixtures because it provides ground cover quite slowly


  • Indiangrass is a warm season grass that spreads by seed and short rhizomes
  • It grows to a height of 3 to 6 feet and will grow on sandy soil, however it is better adapted to moist well drained bottom lands
  • Indiangrass exhibits moderate salt tolerance and will withstand occasional flooding
  • It makes good quality hay if cut before flower stalks develop
  • Improved varieties of Indiangrass are Holt and Tomahawk


  • Buffalograss is a fine leaved native sod forming warm season perennial and is very low growing
  • It has leaves that are from 4 to 8 inches long
  • It makes rapid growth in late spring and summer
  • It recovers rapidly after a drought and can withstand heavy grazing
  • Buffalograss does a good job of erosion control and is used in lawns for drier areas and for airport runways, picnic areas, etc.

Garrison Creeping Foxtail

  • Garrison Creeping Foxtail is a long lived cool season, sod forming grass
  • It is adapted to wet soils, sub-irrigated sites or high mountain meadows
  • It can be used in mixtures on irrigated pastures
  • This grass grows fast in hot or cool weather, and forage production is very high, palatable, nutritious and relished by all classes of livestock
  • Garrison Creeping Foxtail is recommended for use in pasture mixes with other adaptable grasses

Green Needle Grass

  • Green Needle Grass is a cool season, perennial bunch type grass that grows from 1-1/2 to 3 feet tall
  • It is a native grass that grows on medium to fine textured soil
  • Green Needle Grass starts growth early in the spring, and is nutritious and palatable and remains green through the summer, except in very dry years
  • It has good regrowth in the fall and is grazed throughout the year
  • Stand establishment may be slow because of slow germination, caused in part to a high dormant seed content

Warm Season Native Grasses

A plant that makes most of its growth during the spring and summer flowering in the summer or autumn.


  • Switchgrass is a warm season perennial that grows to a height of 2 to 5 feet, although bunchlike in appearance
  • Switchgrass has strong rhizomes that produce a coarse sod, particularly if grazed
  • It prefers area where moisture is abundant and can stand flooding for short periods and is used in water ways
  • This grass exhibits rapid growth in late spring and early summer and is readily grazed by cattle, horses, and sheep
  • It is high yielding and produces best if cut early
  • Newer varieties of this grass are Nebraska 28, Forestburg, and Sunburst

Big Bluestem

  • Big Bluestem is a warm season perennial bunch grass which grows to a height of 3 to 8 feet
  • It has roots that permeate the top 2 feet of soil
  • Big Bluestem is adapted to moist, deep, well drained soils
  • It is very palatable and nutritious
  • Big Bluestem that is continuously grazed closer than 6 to 8 inches will be replaced by less desirable grasses
  • Some of the better varieties are Bonilla, Bison, Pawnee and Roundtree

Little Bluestem

  • Little Bluestem is a warm season, leafy perennial bunch grass which grows to a height of 1 to 4 feet
  • It can be grazed and has food forage value when the leaves are tender and succulent
  • It does not cure well and has only moderate palatability for fall or winter grazing
  • Recommended variety of Little Bluestem in Camper

Side Oats Grama

  • Side Oats Grama is a warm season, erect native perennial grass which grows in tufts and open bunches to a height of 1 to 2 feet tall
  • It is more tolerant to drought than Indiangrass or Big Bluegrass
  • It grows fast in late spring and early summer and stays green late into the summer
  • Side Oats Grama has good forage value and is grazed mostly in late summer and fall
  • Improved varieties are Butte, Tailway and Pierre

Blue Grama

  • Blue Grama is short growing native warm season perennial bunch grass
  • It is found mostly in the Western Dakotas and Nebraska and withstands heavy grazing
  • It has high drought tolerance on all types of soil
  • This grass can be grazed in late summer, fall, or winter
  • Blue Grama is used for lawns in drier areas in mixtures with Buffalograss