Big Bluestem , Tall Bluestem

Andropogon gerardii Vitman



Slender stems grow from short rootstocks. Produces tall, slim culms. The lower sheaths and leaves are usually fuzzy and very hairy. The seed heads usually come out in three branches, resembling a turkey foot. Seed matures in the fall. The ligule extends across the leaf collar, which is square. Cattle prefer this grass, so it decreases with heavy grazing. Big Bluestem is a perennial, warm-season, native reaching 36 to 76 inches or 0.9 to 1.9 m tall. Good grazing for livestock. Poor forage for wildlife. Provides cover, nesting sites, and seeds for a variety of bird species. It also serves as a larval host for certain butterfly species.


It's usually found growing on sandy or loamy soils. Native habitat includes low meadows and prairies. It is most abundant in the central plains but also a prairie component in moist grasslands.