Blue Grama Grass
Although it is only 20–50 cm high, blue grama is the most important range grass of the Canadian Prairies and Northern Great Plains. With its one-sided seed spike that looks like an eyelash, it is a very easy to identify. It’s quite drought tolerant, and provides a major part of the diet of range animals during dry periods.
First Nations people used this grass to forecast the severity of the coming winter: the harshness of the winter corresponded with the number of seed spikes per stem. Only one spike per stem signalled a mild winter ahead. (Johnston 19)
Growth habit and range: This is a warm season, densely tufted, erect grass which grows to a height of 20–50 cm. Short scaly rhizomes are present. This grass is commonly found on grassy plains of the prairie and parkland regions.
Description: The blades are up to 3 mm wide and vary from light green to dark green to reddish in colour. The blades are often twisted and curled. One to three flower spikes develop on each stem, and these measure 2.5–5 cm in length. The straight, brown-purple spikelets (flowers) form 2 rows on one side of the spike. As the spikes mature, they become straw-coloured and curved upward. The seeds are each 3–4 mm in length.
Johnston, Alex. 1987. Plants and the Blackfoot. Occasional Paper No. 15., Lethbridge Historical Society, AB.