Native Grasses 

Big Bluestem this warm seasoned perennial tallgrass has short scaly rhizomes. Coarse seed stalks reach 3 to 7 ft. Each stalk produces one or more hairy, 3 to 6 fingered ”chicken foot” spikes, typically 1½ to 4 inches long. Leaves are numerous and large usually with coarse hairs. Plants are green throughout the summer becoming rusty colored with maturity. It is a North American native occurring in all states except the far West and was the dominant species of the tallgrass prairie. It is excellent in quality, quantity and palatability. Abundance decreases quickly with frequent mowing or heavy grazing pressure, although it proves to be very resilient when pressure is removed. It is frequently seeded for prairie restoration.

  • Warm season, perennial grass
  • Tall 3-7 feet tall
  • “Fuzzy” seed head, chicken foot
  • Good use for CRP, wildlife, or hay
  • Palatability decreases as maturity increases
  • Heavy tonnage
  • Stand quickly decreases with overgrazing or frequent mowing
  • Plant 8-10 lbs. per acre

Little Bluestem is a warm season, perennial bunchgrass 1 to 3 feet tall. Spikelets are fuzzy and fluffy white at maturity and borne in several spicate branches which are lateral and terminal on the culms. Leaf blades are slightly folded; basal portions of stems and leaf sheaths are somewhat flattened and hairless, unlike big bluestem. Foliage reddens at maturity. Little bluestem often exists in nearly pure stands. Little bluestem is a tallgrass prairie increaser and a mixed prairie decreaser. Livestock and hoofed wildlife graze new shoots around the edge of older little bluestem plants. This selective grazing, under moderate use, may cause the erroneous conclusion that the little bluestem is not grazed. Little bluestem is nutritious and readily eaten when immature. Across most of the state it is a valued summer forage and is also used occasionally for hay. Little bluestem is often seeded with other native grasses for erosion control, grazing, and to provide nesting, roosting, and cover for upland game birds.

  • Short, warm seasoned, perennial bunchgrass
  • Matures at 1-3 feet tall
  • Seed heads are fuzzy in appearance
  • Good use for CRP, wildlife, and hay
  • Often seeded in a mixture with other native grasses
  • Good for erosion control
  • Plant 8-10 lbs. per acre

Blue Grama This short warm season perennial is sod-like, spreading from basal tillers with plants that range from 4-18 inches tall. Seed heads each bear 1-3 comb shaped, one sided spicate branches, bluish purple when young and straw colored when mature. In contrast to sideoats grama and hairy grama, blue grama leaf blades are nearly without hairs, having non along the leaf margins. It reaches greatest prominence on drier sites and does best in fine textured, relatively deep soils of rolling uplands. Blue grama is a common associate of buffalograss, sideoats grama, and western wheatgrass. It can create shortgrass sod with grazing pressure, replacing more productive mid and tallgrasses, often eventually giving way to buffalograss. Although normally low in productivity, it is nutritious and palatable to stock and wildlife. Blue grama is finding favor for mixtures with buffalograss in low maintenance lawns.

  • Warm season, short in height, perennial grass
  • Sod forming, 4-18” tall
  • Seed is formed on one sided branches
  • Low in productivity, great nutritional value
  • Great for low maintenance lawns, mix with Buffalograss
  • Plant 6-8 lbs. per acre

Sideoats Grama is a warm season midgrass, moderately rhizomatous perennial, commonly 8 to 24 inches tall. Its distinctive inflorescence consists of short one-sided spikes, ¼ to 5/8 inches long, which hang downward along one side of the flower stalk. Leaf blades are normally flat with stiff hairs along the edges. With curing, basal leaves curl and dry to a brownish-white. The entire plant may take on a light reddish appearance late in the summer and fall. In the northern Great Plains it is found in many upland plant communities, often with western wheatgrass, blue grama, or little bluestem. It is especially common on weakly developed calcareous and fine textured soils. Although it is a sod-forming grass, the short, scaly rhizomes often give the plant a bunchy appearance. Sideoats grama is relished by livestock and grazing wildlife. Where it grows with little bluestem, sideoats grama usually increases with grazing pressure, but with prolonged heavy grazing it may give way to blue grama or invading forbs. It is not as drought tolerant as blue grama. Upland birds feed on Sideoats grama seed. It is commonly used in seed mixtures to restore native rangelands.

  • Warm season, perennial grass, 8-24” tall
  • Easily identified by the one sided seed spikes
  • Loved by livestock and wildlife
  • Used in mixtures to restore native rangelands and CRP
  • Plant 8-10 lbs. per acre

Green Needlegrass is a cool-season, perennial bunchgrass varying from 18 to 36 inches tall. Panicles are somewhat compact. Awns are usually twice bent, somewhat curly when mature, and roughly 1 inch long. Florets turn dark brown and shiny when ripe. Leaves are often rolled, thread-like toward the tip, 4 to 12 inches long, glabrous, and with prominent veins above. The ligule can be a smooth or hairy membrane.

This grass is an abundant native of the Northern Great Plains and grows on medium to fine textured soils reaching its greatest prominence in high seral status ranges. On medium textured soils, green needlegrass grows with western wheatgrass, needleandthread and blue grama. On finer textured soils needleandthread drops out, and on even finer soils blue grama disappears, leaving green needlegrass and western wheatgrass as dominants.

Green needlegrass is also called feather bunchgrass, is nutritious, palatable and decreases under grazing use. Awns are not troublesome to livestock as other needlegrasses. It is often used for revegetation. Grazing wildlife consumes green needlegrass; birds and rodents feed on the seed.

  • Cool season, perennial, bunchgrass
  • Typically grows to 1.5-3 feet in height
  • Abundant native grass in the northern great plains
  • Nutritious and palatable early in maturity
  • Stand decreases under grazing use
  • Good for wildlife and CRP restoration
  • Plant 8-10 lbs. per acre

Switchgrass is a tall, warm season, perennial sod grass. Rather large tear-drop-shaped spikelets are borne in open panicles 6 to 18 inches long on coarse stems up to 40 inches tall. Identification is simplified by a V-shaped patch of hair on the upper surface of the leaf blade near the stem. Leaves up to 2 feet long are abundant. Tight large clumps form from numerous scaly rhizomes. A native decrease, Switch grass grows in greatest abundance in the uplands and lowlands of the Tall grass Prairie. In native stands, Switch grass grows in proximity to big bluestem, prairie cord grass, Canada wild rye and Indian grass. Farming and grazing have decreased Switch grass. It is the favored grass for seeding warm-season upland pastures in central and eastern South Dakota. When used in Prairie restoration, other tall grasses and forbs are included, although not as palatable as some grasses, Switch grass is consumed by livestock as long as stems are green. It is extremely productive with controlled grazing and with careful management; Switch grass makes excellent yields of good quality hay. It provides excellent cover for nesting birds and usually remains standing in winter to serve as good winter cover. Birds make some use of the seed

  • Tall, warm season, perennial, sod forming
  • Up to 4 feet in height
  • Large leaves, stands overwinter well
  • Used in CRP restoration and wildlife habitats
  • High yields, less palatable
  • Plant 6-10 lbs. per acre

Slender Wheatgrass, a cool season, perennial bunchgrass 2 to 4 feet tall, takes its name from the spicate inflorescence that tends to be narrower than those of other common wheatgrasses. Glumes are almost as long as the entire spikelet and are prominently nerved. Both glumes and lemmas are generally without hair. Leaf blades are flat and usually glabrous. Leaves and stems are often purplish tinted. Two forms are generally recognized, beardless, with short awns less than ¼ and bearded, with long awns of ¼ to 1 inch. Slender wheatgrass is common in a variety of grasslands, including those in the Black Hills. It is usually scattered but often abundant in the grasslands of the glaciated northeastern plains. Since it is short lived it is seldom planted to pure stands. In localized areas, slender wheatgrass is sufficiently abundant to be very important. Considered to be a decrease palatability reports are conflicting, in some areas it is relished by livestock and wildlife.

  • Cool season, perennial bunchgrass
  • Average height is between 2-4 feet
  • Plant is not as palatable as others
  • Bearded and beardless varieties
  • Short-lived, generally not planted in pure stands
  • Plant 8-10 lbs. per acre

Western Wheatgrass is a cool season, perennial sod-forming grass with strong rhizomes. Spikes 1 to 6 inches long are elevated on stiff flowering culms 12 to 30 inches tall. Spikelets are usually single at spike nodes, but there can be 2 per node on vigorous plants with ample moisture. Leaves are stiff, strongly ribbed on the upper surface, glabrous, flat when growing and rolled when dry. Clasping auricles are often purple. Stems and leaves are distinctively glucose, as in intermediate wheatgrass. Western Wheatgrass is a major range grass in the northern and central Great Plains, frequently in nearly pure stand son clayey soils, although it does grow on sandy soils. It is moderately alkali tolerant. It is the most abundant grass in most of the South Dakota mixed prairie. In 1970 legislative action designated western wheatgrass as the state grass of South Dakota, an honor it shares in North Dakota and Wyoming. It is palatable and nutritious when growing and moderately so the rest of the year. Elk, antelope, and deer use it. Grouse nest in western wheatgrass communities. Grouse, pheasants and songbirds feed on its seeds, as do rabbits.

  • Cool season, perennial, sod forming grass
  • Average height is around 3 feet
  • Planted pure stands on clayey ground
  • Moderately tolerant to alkali soil
  • Was named the state grass of SD
  • Very palatable and nutritious when in early growth
  • Great for wildlife grazing, also great for nesting birds
  • Plant 8-10 lbs. per acre

Canada Wildrye is a cool season, short-lived perennial, tufted grass (rarely with short rhizomes), and 2 to 5 feet tall with a drooping spike at the end of the culm. Several, few seeded spikelets may arise at a single node of the spike. Lemmas have long awns curving outward at maturity. Leaves are broad, 4 to 10 inches long, and with large auricles, Heads and leaves turn russet to tan as plants cure in late summer. Distribution of this native is extensive throughout Canada, across the United States excluding only a few southeastern states, and into northern Mexico. In the more humid eastern parts of the Great Plains, it can be found on prairie uplands, whereas in semi-arid central and western parts it is confined to stream banks and shaded or otherwise relatively wet areas. When moisture conditions are favorable, Canada wild rye will grow throughout the summer or regrow in the autumn. Although other wild ryes occur in the state, this one is the most abundant. It is best adapted to medium textured soils but will grow in most soils of both prairie and forest. It is seldom abundant but forage value when green and growing is rated good for cattle and horses and fair for sheep and wildlife.

  • Cool season, short-lived perennial
  • 2-5 feet in height with large drooping seed head
  • With favorable moisture, this plant will grow throughout the summer and autumn
  • Best adapted to medium textured soils
  • Most palatable when green and growing
  • Rated good for cattle and horses, rated fair for sheep and wild life
  • Plant 8-10 lbs. per acre

Indian Grass

  • Warm season, tall in height, perennial grass
  • Bunchgrass with short rhizomes
  • Decent palatability if cut early in maturity, before flowering stalks develop
  • Commonly seeded with other native species for wildlife, grazing, and CRP restoration
  • Plant 8-10 lbs. per acre

Native Grasses 

Big Bluestem

  Canada Wild Rye 

     Indian Grass

  Little Bluestem

  Green Needle Grass

 Buffalo Grass

 Side Oats Grama

 Western Wheatgrass

Pasture & Hay Mixes

 Slender Wheatgrass


  Call for any varieties not listed!