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Big Bluestem

Photo by Bob Gress

Common Name: Big Bluestem

Scientific Name: Andropogon geradii

Family: Grass

Longevity: Perennial

Height: 3 - 8 feet

Bloom Period: July, August, September, and October


Description: Stems are erect, round and often have a waxy, bluish color. Leaf blades are flat and sometimes inward rolled on the edges. Flower and seed heads are composed of 2-7 (usually three) 1½-4-inch-long branches.

Comments: The common name refers to the height and color of the stems. It is also called “turkey foot” due to the shape of the seed head and sometimes “beard grass” because of the white hairs within the seed heads. Andropogon means “man’s beard” in reference to these white hairs. Big Bluestem is preferred by livestock over most other grasses. Because of the dominance and high forage value of this grass, the Flint Hills were once called the “bluestem pastures.” After a fall frost, leaves turn shades of purplish-red. Big Bluestem grows statewide.

Photo by Bob Gress