Silver Bluestem , Silver Beardgrass

Bothriochloa laguroides (DC.) Herter ssp. torreyana (Steud.) Allred & Gould



Silver Bluestem is easily identified by its striking silver-white cottony inflorescence. It usually grows from a semi-prostrate base with no rhizomes. Its stems can be a meter or slightly more and bend at each of its glabrous white nodes. Stem sheaths are shorter than the internodes.   Its mostly basal leaves grow to about 20 cm, about 5-18 mm wide, and tapering to a point. Their upper surfaces and margins are rough to the touch.  The fuzzy, white terminal, contracted, panicle is narrowly oblong of up to 20 cm and has numerous branches, greater than 10, shorter than the main axis, and bearing silvery-white fuzzy spikelets with short awns.  The densely villous branches can grow to about 5 cm.    Silver Bluestem is considered fair grazing for livestock (prior to getting coarse in the summer) but poor forage for wildlife. 


Silver Bluestem is a perennial, warm-season, native grass considered a pioneer or mid-successional; it is one of the first to appear after a drought. It tends to be replaced by other species as the conditions improve. Grows on prairies and rocky slopes and occurs on old, released farmlands in just a few years. It grows on all types of soil in both shade and sun but prefers dry sites.