Scientific NameAndropogon gerardii
Other Common Names:
Synonyms (former Scientific Names):
It is a perennial grass that forms clumps or mats due to short rhizomes. It grows upright and can reach 6 to 8 ft tall.
Leaves can reach 15 inches in length and 2 to 6 mm wide. The leaves and sheaths are typically hairless, but can be rough to the touch.
Big bluestem is a native, perennial warm-season bunchgrass. It spreads by producing short rhizomes. It can grow 6-8 feet tall, but the height can be region dependent. Leaf blades can range from 6 to 24 inches long. Seed heads consist of 2-6 (usually 3) blooming racemes resembling a turkey foot.
Flower Seed Head
It forms a spike-like raceme and resembles a turkey foot. Flowering can range from July-October.
The fluffy seeds are oblong, less than 0.25 inches long. It does well in full sun or partial shade.
It is a major component of the tall grass vegetation used in prairie management. It is a common grass in the understory of longleaf pine communities of the southeastern U.S. Big bluestem grows best in moist, well-drained sandy and clay loam soils. It does well in low fertility.
Leaf Hair on Upper Surface
hairs from base to tip
rolled in bud
Mature Leaf Width
less than 5 mm,
6 to 15 mm
flat or oval
less than 1 mm,