The smallest grass in the garden is Blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis). This is native to a wide area across North America from Alberta east to Manitoba & south through the great plains into northern Mexico.

In eastern Alberta it is the backbone of shortgrass prairies as can be seen in this photo around the Majorville Medicine Wheel. A more detailed look at the prairie shows that Blue grama grass, the low pinky orange grass with the curled seed heads, grows with other short grasses and sagebrush, the bluish grey clumps with small leaves. Although the leaves are blueish to grayish green, in late summer or fall they dry to a warm orangey brown.

It is a small (15-30 cm tall) perennial warm season grass and in Alberta is usually found in relatively dry areas since it is drought tolerant. The roots of this grass are typically 0.9 to 2 m deep which allow them to find water in lower layers of the soil even through droughts. For example, it has done well this summer in the garden without watering or rain for 6-8 weeks.

Blue grama is a bunchgrass, meaning it forms clumps or tufts unlike Sweetgrass. When it occurs in prairies, the clumps are typically separated by bare earth or low flowering plants. The separation of clumps reduces competition for water between adjacent clumps. This structure is particularly important for grassland birds, small mammals & insects which can move between clumps easily while being sheltered by the grass.

The name eyelash grass is due to the flowering heads, which look like they have a fringe of eyelashes. The effect is increased when the heads dry & curve like the edge of the eyelid.