Scientific Name: Schizachyrium scoparium

Common Name: little bluestem

Habit: It is a warm-season, bunch type grass that grows from 1 to 3 ft in height

Leaves: Leaf blades are flat, often rolled and can be smooth to hairy. Leaves are 2 to 12 inches long, 1.5-6mm wide, pointed with sheaths keeled and usually smooth. Ligule is a fringed membrane 0.5-2.5 mm long.

Identifying Characteristics: It gets its name from the bluish color of the stem bases in the spring. In the fall, the plants turn reddish-tan with cotton-tufted seedheads.

Flower Seed Head: The seedheads are racemes found singly, in pairs or in groups, and are produced in early fall. Flowers are followed by clusters of fluffy, silvery white seed heads.

Seed Fruit: Seeds have a finger-like shape resembling a turkey foot.

Where Found: Typically occurs on dry upland sites, hilltops, and prairies. It is adapted to many different soil types ranging from sandy to clay-loam textures but struggled in wetland areas. Native to U.S. and Canada. Little bluestem is found throughout Canada and the U.S. except Nevada and Washington. Little bluestem is used as a forage grass, ornamental grass and prairie restoration grass.

  • Life cycle: perennial

  • Plant type: Grass

  • Auricle: not present

  • Plant family: Poaceae

  • Leaf arrangement: folded in bud

  • Hair surface: no hairs

  • Ligule: membrane

  • Length: none

  • Seed head: branched spike

  • Width: less than 5 mm

  • Grass stem: round