Actinochloa gracilis (Kunth) Willd. ex Roem. & Schult.
Atheropogon gracilis (Kunth) Spreng.
Atheropogon oligostachyus Nutt.
Bouteloua gracilis (Kunth) Lag. ex Griffiths
Bouteloua major Vasey
Bouteloua oligostachya (Nutt.) Torr. ex A.Gray
Bouteloua stricta Vasey
Chondrosum oligostachyum (Nutt.) Torr.
Eutriana gracilis (Kunth) Trin.
Eutriana oligostachya (Nutt.) Kunth
Common Name: Blue Grama
Chondrosum gracile is a evergreen, perennial, clump-forming grass with erect to decumbent culms 25 - 60cm long.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and source of materials. It can be used for soil reclamation and stabilization projects and is sometimes grown as an ornamental, especially in xeriscape gardens, where it has potential for use as a lawn.
N. America - Alberta to Ontario, south through central America to California, Texas, north and south Mexico
Deserts and prairies[
]. Grows in pure stands in mixed prairie associations and disturbed habitats, usually on rocky or clay soils; mainly at elevations from 300 - 3,000 metres[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Chondrosum gracile is found from the cold temperate regions of southern Canada, through the mountain ranges of N. America, south to the more tropical regions of southern Mexico. One report says that it is not hardy in the colder areas of the temperate zone, tolerating temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c[
], though judging by its native range it should be much hardier than this[
]. Whilst plants in the south of its range may not experience frosts, in the north it can experience temperatures as low as -40°c[
]. The plant requires a minimum annual precipitation of 200 - 380mm, this occurring in the spring and early summer, whilst in some parts of its range annual precipitation can be up to 1,000mm[
Easily grown in full sun on any well-drained, dry to moist soil[
]. Tolerates a wide range of soils, except poorly-drained, wet ones[
]. Prefers a near-neutral or lime-free soil[
]. Established plants are very drought tolerant[
When grown as an ornamental, the plant is usually cut to the ground in late winter before the new shoots appear[
Seed production is generally low, but may be plentiful in favourable years. Seed yields of 110 - 200 kilos per hectare have been obtained from natural stands. The amount of seed produced depends on whether moisture is plentiful and temperatures are cool during the period of blossoming and seed formation. Seed production may also be reduced by shading. In years of good growing conditions, the plant may produce 2 or 3 seed crops[
The presence of seed heads and seed head densities may be increased by repeated annual burning[
All members of this genus use the method of photosynthesis known as C4. This allows for the more effective capture of carbon dioxide and thus less water loss through transpiration since the stomata do not have to be open for transpiration. This is an advantage in the arid environments where these plants are usually found[
Seed - raw or cooked[
]. It can be ground into a powder, mixed with water and eaten as a mush, often with corn meal[
]. It is also used to make bread[
The chewed roots have been applied to cuts[
A decoction of the whole plant has been used as a post-partum medicine[
Because of its wide adaptation, ease of establishment, and economic value, blue grama is used extensively for conservation purposes, rangeland seeding, and landscaping. It is useful for reclamation and for erosion control in arid and semiarid regions[
Usually growing as a clump grass, when mown or grazed, the plant develops a more spreading habit and can be used as a lawn grass[
]. Where it forms a dense cover, it is an important soil-building grass in its native habitats[
The grass is sometimes used in the fill of coiled basketry[
The stems can be used as a comb and broom material[
]. The blades can be bundled by a cord and the stiff end used as a hair comb whilst the other end can be used as a broom[
Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse. Only just cover the seed. The seed does not germinate at temperatures lower than 10°c, with best germination (up to 94%) occurring at constant temperatures ranging from 16 - 38°c[
]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when large enough to handle and grow on for at least the first winter in a greenhouse. Plant out in early summer.