Scientific Name: Andropogon gerardii

Common Name: big bluestem

Other Common Names: bluejoint, bluejoint beardgrass, poptillo gigante, turkeyfoot.

Synonyms: Andropogon chrysocomus, Andropogon furcatus, Andropogon provincialis

Habit: 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: 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.

Identifying Characteristics: 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.

Seed Fruit: The fluffy seeds are oblong, less than 0.25 inches long. It does well in full sun or partial shade.

Where Found: 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.

  • Life cycle: perennial

  • Plant type: Grass

  • Auricle: not present

  • Plant family: Poaceae

  • Leaf arrangement: rolled in bud

  • Hair surface: hairs from base to tip

  • Ligule: membrane

  • Length: 1-2 mm; 2-3 mm; less than 1 mm

  • Seed head: branched spike

  • Width: less than 5 mm; 6 to 15 mm

  • Grass stem: flat or oval