Little Bluestem


Andropogon scoparius

Grass family (Poaceae)

Description: A bunched grass, growing in dense clusters, with the flowering stems up to 4' tall. The leaves arre folded lengthwise in bud, unfolding as they emerge, and are up to 12" long and less than 1/4" wide, turning bronzed orange after frost. The stems ar usually hairy and strongly flattened near the base. Flowers are scattered along the upper parts of nearly vertical side stalks, with long hairs creating a feathery appearance. There is a single, white-hairy, elongate flower cluster at the tip of each stalk. The seds have bristlelike awns.


Habitat/Range: One of the most characteristic tallgrass prairie grasses throughout the tallgrass region, occurring as a major ground cover in prairies ranging from extremely dry to mesic, on both acid and alkaline soils.

Comments: A related species, Broom Sedge (A. virginicus), is a more weedy plant of sterile sites in old fields and pastures, as well as occasionally in prairies. In Broom Sedge, the flattened stem bases are usually large, wide, and shiny, and there is more than one flower cluster at the end of each stalk.