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Little Bluestem

Photo by Barry Raugust

 

Common Name: Little Bluestem

Scientific Name: Schizachyrium scoparium

Family: Grass

Longevity: Perennial

Height: 2 - 3 feet

Bloom Period: August, September

 

Description: Stems of this tufted bunchgrass are slightly flattened and purplish to bluish-green. Leaf blades are 1/8 to 1/4 inch wide. Flowers and seeds are produced on numerous, short, spike-like branches along a slender stalk.

Comments: Big and Little Bluestem may constitute over 70 percent of the plant biomass in most native tallgrass prairies. Little Bluestem grows statewide on upland prairies. It starts growth in late spring. More than 20 species of skipper butterflies are common in the Flint Hills where Little Bluestem and other native grasses are necessary food sources for the larvae. Little Bluestem provides excellent cover for ground-nesting birds. Plants take on a pinkish-red cast in the fall. Little Bluestem was chosen as the official state grass of Kansas in 2010.

Photo by Iralee Barnard