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 Post subject: Buffalo Grass
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 11:13 am 
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Location: HALIFAX, NS
When the first colonists came to North America the plains were covered by Buffalo grass. Apparently it was so tall in parts of Canada that chuck wagons could not be seen when travelling through it. I tried to find out more about it but find no references aside froma short lawn substitute. I have in my mind's eye something similar to Miscanthus. Does anyone know the Genus and species and if it cultivated as an ornamental garden grass?

johnw - +13c at 8:05

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 Post subject: Re: Buffalo Grass
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 11:35 am 
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Seems liek its referencing a few kinds of grass.... The latin name for the North american species is "Bouteloua Dactylouides".. There are quite a few turf grass types :

Quote:
Buffalograss is used as a drought-tolerant turfgrass in North America and is also grown for forage. Turfgrass cultivars include 609, Prairie, Stampede and Density, while Comanche and Texoka are intended for forage.[4] In addition, researchers at the University of California Riverside and University of California Davis have hybridized a buffalograss cultivar, UC Verde[5], creating a thick, green, drought-tolerant lawn for California's hot, dry summers.
(wikipedia)

I cant find too much in regards to the non turf species. Maybe try the Uni of alberta or saskatchewan? They might be able to at least point you in the right direction?

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 Post subject: Re: Buffalo Grass
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 11:36 am 
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I don't think there was one dominant species in the tallgrass prairies, and "Buffalo grass" has always been a turf grass from what I've read. Chances are the tall grasses were called "Buffalo grass" but weren't -- that's the problem with common names (as we know with bamboo).

Big Bluestem, "Indian grass", and switchgrass (Panicum) can get 8' tall -- those are the main grasses in the prairies, with little bluestem, prairie dropseed, and a few others in there too.

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 Post subject: Re: Buffalo Grass
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 12:27 pm 
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Alan / cp - I only use the term buffalo grass as that's what a grade 5 teacher called it eons ago. The scene in my mind has never left. We've done a fine job decimating whatever that was and the cane brakes too, no wonder erosion and flooding is so devastating these days.

johnw

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 Post subject: Re: Buffalo Grass
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 1:28 pm 
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Location: zone 3a-4b
johnw wrote:
Alan / cp - I only use the term buffalo grass as that's what a grade 5 teacher called it eons ago. The scene in my mind has never left. We've done a fine job decimating whatever that was and the cane brakes too, no wonder erosion and flooding is so devastating these days.

johnw



The theory is that the grasslands of N America are such only because the native tribes there wanted buffalo to proliferate, so they used controlled burnings to keep forests down. More buffalo meant more food.

Dont worry about the common name, I found what you meant quickly enough :P All I found, like you were turf types, and even wikipedia says it gets about 5 inches tall. Your teacher may have gotten it confused with something else, although the description of it being everywhere in the praries seems to hold to Bouteloua.

I find it funny how settlers decimated canebrake, yet now many americans grow dozens of non native bamboos, and let it natralize in some areas.. I wish more americans grew it, and more yet, canadians (if you can manage to find it)

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 Post subject: Re: Buffalo Grass
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 1:56 pm 
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Location: HALIFAX, NS
canadianplant wrote:
Bouteloua


This Bouteloua dactyloides doesn't seem to have the height required but then I don't know how tall a chuck wagon was!

General consensus seems to be that the native A. gigantea isn't terribly ornamental and often listed as coarse. I agree we should try it out up here. Bamboo Garden lists 'Macon' I think.

johnw

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 Post subject: Re: Buffalo Grass
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 2:12 pm 
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johnw wrote:
...I don't know how tall a chuck wagon was!

There are two ways for a covered wagon to "disappear in the grass". The first is if the grass is actually taller than the wagon -- which seems possible with the cover down, but impossible if the cover was up. The second way would be if the viewer was in the grass. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Buffalo Grass
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 2:48 pm 
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Could have been the birth of the convertible. :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Buffalo Grass
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 2:54 pm 
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andropogon_gerardii

Quote:
Andropogon gerardii, big bluestem, is tolerant of a wide range of soils and moisture. Depending on soil and moisture conditions, it grows to a height of 1–3 metres (3.3–9.8 ft).[3] Big bluestem is a perennial bunch grass. The stem base turns to a blue-purple as it matures. The seed heads have three spike-like projections, resulting in the common name "turkey foot". The roots are deep, and the plants send out strong, tough rhizomes, so it forms very strong sod. It blooms in the summer and seeds into the fall.
(wikipedia)

Thats pretty close to chuckwaggon size!

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 Post subject: Re: Buffalo Grass
PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2012 12:46 am 
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Look up the "Staked Plains" on horse back they had a hard time navigating them. I believe that was Big Blue Stem.
MarCat


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