A Field Guide to the Prairie

Big Bluestem
Photo: Joe Riederer
Big Bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Grass Family (Poaceae)
Habitat/Range: A major groundcover throughout the tallgrass prairie-from dry to wet prairies. Most common and often dominant in mesic sites.

This grass grows in bunches, with flowering stalks averaging 3-6 feet tall, but occasionally up to 9 feet. Portions of the round stems are frequently bluish or purplish. The leaves turn reddish bronze after frost. The flowers are at the top of the stalks, usually in 3-4 tight clusters from a common point.

This plant was used by Native Americans to treat digestive problems. The arrangement of flower heads gives rise to another common name, Turkey-Foot Grass.

On the Prairie Field Guide Index

College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences
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