Sideoats grama grass; photo © Mike Haddock / Kansas State U Libraries (all rights reserved; used by permission).
Official State Grass of Texas
Texas designated sideoats grama as the official state grass in 1971. All State Grasses
Sideoats grama is a native species of prairie grass found on rocky hillsides and dry, open grassland. "Side-oats" refers to the small oat-like seeds that hang down uniformly on one side of the seed stem. Sideoats grama prairie grass is a nutritious food for foraging wildlife and livestock. The bright purple and orange flowers of sideoats grama give it a special grace and beauty.
Grasslands & The North American Prairie
Grasslands cover one third of the Earth's land surface. Grassland plants are mostly grasses and forbs (herbaceous broadleaf plants or wildflowers). A prairie is a particular type of grassland.
The North American prairie is one of the most endangered ecosystems on earth. The grasslands of North America began to form about 20 million years ago, but in some areas up to 99 percent of the prairie has been destroyed (in just the last 125-150 years).
Senate Concurrent Resolution
WHEREAS, Texas relies heavily upon the native grasses of the rangelands to sustain the livestock that has made ranching one of our State's major industries; and
WHEREAS, Although there are many desirable forage species native to the State, one variety, sideoats grama, occurs on a greater diversity of soils than possibly any other grass; on rangelands of West Texas it is the backbone of the ranching industry; and
WHEREAS, This grass, with the botanical name bouteloua curtipendula (Michx.) Torr., is a perennial with long purplish spikes and is found in nearly all parts of the State, being especially abundant in area including the Blackland Prairies, Cross Timbers, Edwards Plateau, Rolling Plains, High Plains, and Trans-Pecos; and
WHEREAS, Sideoats grama produces a high quality, nutritious forage which is relished by all classes of livestock and wildlife; it is one of the State's most attractive grasses as well, with its brilliant orange anthers and the purple inflorescence it produces upon maturity; each spike turns to one side of the seed stalk at maturity, giving the grass its name of sideoats; and
WHEREAS, This grass is also favored because it is not only winter hardy but is highly drought resistant due to the fact that it is a long-lived perennial grass with rhizomes; in some years the grass produces two seed crops, and growth begins early in the spring and continues until early fall; and
WHEREAS, In addition to its use for forage, sideoats grama is being used extensively to reseed depleted grasslands, and it produces vigorous seedlings making it an excellent grass for all conservation purposes; it mixes well with other native grasses and is being used in this way more than any other grass; and
WHEREAS, The State of Texas has not officially designated a State grass and both the Texas Council of Chapters, Soil Conservation Society of America, and the Texas Section, American Society of Range Management, have requested that the 62nd Legislature officially name sideoats grama as the Texas State Grass; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, By the Senate of the State of Texas, the House of Representatives concurring, that sideoats grama, [bouteloua curtipendula (Michx.) Torr.] be and is hereby designated as the official State grass of Texas in accordance with the recommendations of the Texas Council of Chapters, Soil Conservation Society of America, and the Texas Section, American Society of Range Management.