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Species Spotlight:Side Oats Grama (Sideways Grass)

One of the prettiest local native grass species is sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula). Its name describes the oat-like seeds that hang uniformly, lined up on one side of the slender, zig-zag stem. In late summer, look at the flowers through a magnifying glass. The plant’s reproductive organs — bright red anthers and feathery, white stigmas — will blow your mind. Sideoats grama is a dominant grass of dry hilltop prairies. It tolerates extreme heat. Scientists say the range of sideoats grama expanded during the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s. In Winnebago County, it can be found in most prairie restoration areas.It is an important forage species in the mixed-grass prairie. Wild Turkey eat the seeds.