Andropogon gerardii (Big Bluestem)
Big Bluestem is a perennial, warm season bunchgrass. It features blueish-green stems. Its seedheads resemble turkey’s foot and seeds mature in the fall. Fall color is maroonish-bronze-tan. Seedheads make attractive fall accents in prairie meadows.
Big Bluestem is quite drought-tolerant when in deep prairie soils. If used in a garden setting, too much water, shade, or fertilizer can cause it to get top-heavy and fall over. It is moderately tolerant of acidity and salinity and can withstand periodic flooding. It forms dense stands that gradually increase in size over time. Plants can over time form a very strong sod. Most of its growth occurring in mid-summer into fall.
Big Bluestem can be used as a meadow grass with wildflowers, a pocket tall grass prairie, or a dramatic garden accent. It provides good erosion control. This native grass thrives in deep soils.
Big Bluestem provides cover for numerous species of wildlife. The Sedge Wren and Meadowlark use it for their nesting sites, and it is a larval host for at least two butterfly species, the Delaware Skipper and the Dusted Skipper.
AT A GLANCE
|Water use||Low, medium|
|Sun exposure||Full sun
|Bloom time||Summer, fall|
|Mature height||3-6 ft
|Mature spread||3 ft
|Host plant||Delaware Skipper, Dusted Skipper butterflies
|Notes||Provides nesting material or site for native bees.|
|Present in state|
|Present in county and native|
|Native to North America, but adventive & escaped in state|
|Not present in state|
|Present and rare, native in county|
|Previously present, now extinct|
|Questionable presence (cross-hatched, regardless of color)|