Bouteloua curtipendula
Side-oats grama grass
Image of Bouteloua curtipendula

Photo by Susan R. Crispin 

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Key Characteristics

Medium-sized grass of dry prairies, savannas, and hillsides; leaf blade 2-7 mm wide with a ligule of short hairs; spikelets short, numerous, appearing attached primarily to one side of the narrow rachis.

Status and Rank

  • State Status: E
  • State Rank: S1
  • Global Rank: G5


County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
St. Joseph21961
Distribution map for Bouteloua curtipendula

Updated 5/15/2018. Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Though a common plant of dry prairies further west, it was never common in Michigan and its native habitat in the state was mainly limited to oak barrens and hillside prairies. Elsewhere in range it is also known to be associated with alvar.

Natural Community Types


For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Associated Plants

White oak, black oak, lupine, little bluestem, needle grass, kitten-tails, sassafras, service berry, New Jersey tea, sweetfern, beaked hazelnut, wintergreen, huckleberry, sand cherry, dwarf chinquapin oak, low sweet blueberry, big bluestem, hair grass, Pennsylvania sedge, slender sand sedge, sky-blue aster, false foxglove, flowering spurge, dwarf dandelion, blazing star, wild bergamot, goat's-rue, birdfoot violet.


The species requires the maintenance of the savanna community. Brush removal and prescribed burns are recommended, since sites tend to heavily brush in without natural disturbance regime. Most examples of these sites are small and becoming degraded through further landscape fragmentation and lack of management.

General Survey Guidelines

Random meander search covers areas that appear likely to have rare taxa, based on habitat and the judgement of the investigator.

Survey Methods

Page Citation

Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 2007. Rare Species Explorer (Web Application). Available online at [Accessed Sep 25, 2018]


Survey References

Technical References

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