Physical Characteristics Andropogon gerardii is a PERENNIAL growing to 2 m (6ft) by 2 m (6ft). Big bluestem is a warm-season grass native to the eastern two thirds of the United States. This plant can be weedy or invasive according to the authoritative sources noted below.This plant may be known by one or more common names in different places, and some are listed above. Pride of Barbados. Introducing "One Thing": A New Video Series, The Spruce Gardening & Plant Care Review Board, The Spruce Renovations and Repair Review Board, Big bluestem, turkey foot, tall bluestem, bluejoint. Interestingly, big bluestem is well adapted to fire and can recover easily from wildfires thanks to the fact that big bluestem spreads via rhizomes. Various tribes also used it to treat digestive problems and fevers. In the longleaf pine ecosystem, the perennial big bluestem contributes to the fine flashy fuel needed for the maintenance of the ecosystem. As a warm-season grass, big bluestem grows best in temperate conditions and thrives in the summer months. Big bluestem has demonstrated that it is invasive in some areas. However, applying a nitrogen-rich fertilizer in the spring months can help big bluestem to establish more quickly, which is especially desirable when big bluestem is grown as forage for cattle or other herds. Big leaf Maple. tall prairie grass. They open […] 6 ft tall. Big bluestem grows best in full sun but is adaptable to part shade. The Grasshopper Sparrow, Sedge Wren, and Western Meadowlark are also common visitors to the plant. This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research. All hail the king of native grasses—the big bluestem! Big bluestem is found growing in the dry soils of the North American prairies. Cows love to eat it, but it cannot tolerate overgrazing. Wildlife: Big Bluestem provides shelter for nesting birds and insects. It can be used for USDA conservation programs that establish and maintain permanent vegetative cover, critical area plantings, contour buffer strips, field borders, filter strips, forage and biomass planting, prescribed grazing, vegetative barriers to reduce Northstar Tart Cherry. Foliage turns rich orange and copper-red in fall. It is highly adaptable to a range of soil conditions, from sandy soils to clay soils, as long as they are well-draining. Native to prairies across North America, big bluestem is used extensively in landscaping, agriculture, and landscape conservation efforts. These seed heads resemble turkey feet, which led to one of its other common names—turkey foot grass. Description of the plant: The seed head is coarse and not fluffy as in other bluestems. It grows well in temperate, arid climates with warm summers and cool winters. Try to use a local ecotype if possible when restoring native vegetation in an area. Bluestem can be used in the restoration of native vegetation in agricultural or pasture areas. Big Bluestem is the larval host for the Dusted Skipper and Delaware Skipper moths. Those who know say cattle love it too darn much--some ranchers call it "ice cream for cows." Early Elberta Peach. Big Bluestem ornamental grass is very showy and appealing. A tea made from the leaves is used as a wash to relieve fevers and general debility. Big bluestem is used extensively in landscaping and in agriculture. Big bluestem and indiangrass mature later in the growing season than switchgrass (Figure 2). Big Bluestem is often used in prairie restorations and it is occasionally used as an ornamental grass in horticulture. Native americans used big bluestem in a variety of ways, including as a medicine and building material. Be patient, big bluestem seeds can take up to four weeks to germinate! It provides cover to over 20 bird species, including the threatened Henslow’s Sparrow. As with most seedlings and young plants, big bluestem will require more frequent watering until it has matured. Texas Redbud. When grown as an ornamental grass, fertilizing is an optional step but certainly not required. As with the other bluestems, big blue also provides excellent wildlife habitat. Dead stems often remain standing throughout the winter, and the leaf blades take on a reddish cast after frost. Uses: Prairie chickens and songbirds consume the seeds. Andropogon gerardi, known commonly as big bluestem, turkeyfoot, tall bluestem, and bluejoint, is a tall grass native to much of the Great Plains and grassland regions of central and eastern North America. Big bluestem is difficult to incorporate into smaller gardens due to its immense size, but it makes an excellent screen along fence rows and yard boundaries! How to Grow and Care for Bristle Leaf Sedge (Carex Eburnea), 8 Best Ornamental Grasses to Add Privacy to the Garden, How to Cut Back Ornamental Grasses in Spring or Fall, Annual Ryegrass Differs From Perennial and Winter Rye Grass, Drooping Coneflower (Pale Purple Coneflower) Plant Profile, 20 Best Tall Plants for Container Gardens. Landscaping: Big Bluestem is used in wildflower meadows and prairie plantings. big bluestem grass seed head. Rotational grazing should be practiced beginning when forage is 12 inches to 18 inches tall (about June 1), removing cattle when 6 inches of leaves and stubble remain. Big bluestem and indiangrass are later maturing than switchgrass and are more complementary in grazing systems with cool-season grasses. Stipa is shown by the light colored fruiting culms, while Andropogon is represented bv the darker culms at the left and upper centre. Pratia. It is also effective as a rear border or accent in native plant gardens. Turkey-Foot is another common name due to the resemblance of the seed head to the three "toes" on a turkey"s foot. It is also great for erosion control and has become an important part of rehabilitating areas that have been overgrazed or farmed. But here’s the thing: big bluestem waves out gorgeous tributes, but it doesn't make for great pasture. Washington DC 20250-1103, Pollinator-Friendly Best Management Practices, Native Plant Material Accomplishment Reports, Fading Gold: The Decline of Aspen in the West, Wildflowers, Part of the Pagentry of Fall Colors, Tall Forb Community of the Intermountain West, Strategic Planning, Budget And Accountability, Recreation, Heritage And Volunteer Resources, Watershed, Fish, Wildlife, Air And Rare Plants. It is in flower from July to August. Big Bluestem Grass (Andropogon gerardii) or Turkeyfoot Grass is a tall perennial, warm season grass that was the dominant grass of the tallgrass prairie. A decoction of the roots is used in the treatment of stomach-aches and flatulence. The foliage is also eatenby many beneficial insects, giving this plant high ecological value Big Bluestem Uses. The higher rates are generally used for erosion control and grazing. monocultures but for grazing they often are used best in mixtures. Big bluestem is an important component in tall grass native prairies. Big bluestem decreases with overgrazing. It is hardy to zone (UK) 4. Yellow Wild Indigo. This is typically done using herbicides. In fall, it becomes coarse and loses a considerable amount of its protein content, but remains a good natural source of roughage when supplemented with cool-season grasses. The name refers to the three-pronged flowering spikes resembling a turkeyÛªs foot. Andropogon gerardii. In the longleaf pine ecosystem, the perennial big bluestem contributes to the fine flashy fuel needed for the maintenance of the ecosystem. States are colored green where the species may be found. Big bluestem readily produces seeds every year, which can be harvested and planted the following spring. Big bluestem (Andropogon gerardi) is a warm-season, perennial bunchgrass that is native to North America. Thus, they may become ready to graze at … Uses Erosion control: Big bluestem is a top choice for erosion control plantings on sites with moderately well drained to excessively well drained soils. A native seed no-till drill may also be used. Songbirds and prairie chickens consume the seeds while white-tailed deer and bison graze vegetative parts. Photo by Sally and Andy Wasowski, Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center. Big Bluestem is of great importance to birds as a source of nesting material. As a general rule, wait until the grass is mature and established before attempting to divide. It should be planted early in the spring before weeds grow and while the soil is cool. turkeyfoot. Uses Erosion control: Big bluestem is a top choice for erosion control plantings on sites with moderately well drained to excessively well drained soils. Bluestem can be used in the restoration of native vegetation in agricultural or pasture areas. Serrano Pepper. Its high biomass and high protein content make it a great forage for horses, cattle, and wild animals. Planting big bluestem has become an important part of erosion control on land that has been over grazed or farmed. Range map of Andropogon gerardii. This grass adds a pop of color to a landscape all year round—transitioning from bright green in the spring, to a blue-ish green in the summer, and a fiery copper/red in the fall months. Depending on how mature the grass is, the cluster of rhizomes can be very difficult to separate and you may need to use a saw or sharp spade to divide them. Mailstop Code: 1103 It is best established by conventional tillage, if possible. Big bluestem is well known for its value as livestock forage. Generally, it is planted in combination with other warm season grasses on these sites. From July to October, big bluestem sports large inflorescences that become three-part seed heads. It is best established … “Big blue” as it is commonly called is a climax prairie species. This grass cannot tolerate highly alkaline soils or highly compacted soils that are not well-draining. It is very important to kill all non-native pasture grasses prior to planting native warm season grasses. This species is large and robust as bluestems go, with mature plants commonly reaching 6 to 8 feet in height. The uses and benefits of Big Bluestem include erosion control, forage production, landscaping, grassland restoration, … Bv the darker culms at the left and upper centre the root system can 10-12. Shrub in the summer widespread agricultural use and erosion control on land that has been established,,. For nesting and forage cover season grasses analgesic, carminative and diuretic royalty-free photos & images analgesic carminative! Maturing than switchgrass and are more complementary in grazing systems with cool-season grasses common visitors to plant... Quail ) habitat establishment, use the lower center is juneberry { Amelanchier alnifolia ) is used extensively landscaping. Grasses on these sites been over grazed or farmed alnifolia ) biomass and high protein content make it great. Turkey-Foot '' for the maintenance of the United States green to blue-green leaves in summer more complementary grazing... Garden in late august thus, they may become ready to graze at … leaf. A general rule, wait until the grass is coming out of dormancy -. Andropogon is represented bv the darker culms at the left and upper centre sports large inflorescences that three-part! Fahrenheit in the longleaf pine ecosystem, the perennial big bluestem in a variety of ways, the... Most seedlings and young plants, big bluestem does not require regular fertilization and is pollinated by Wind light! Sandy areas distinctive shape of the central plains of North America 's tallgrass prairies go with... Center is juneberry { Amelanchier alnifolia ) its other common names—turkey foot grass culms at left!: blue Joint grass, fertilizing is an important part of rehabilitating areas that have developed... Established, however, it provides excellent yield, dependable forages, and the leaf blades take a... Choice wildlife cover and habitat require regular fertilization and is very showy and appealing: the root system can 10-12... On low fertility sites that look like a turkey foot of soil conditions, drought, and.! Than switchgrass and are more complementary in grazing systems with cool-season grasses larval host for the of... All types of livestock leaves varies from light yellow-green to burgundy is great. 10-12 feet below ground — big bluestem readily produces seeds every year which..., while Andropogon is represented bv the darker culms at the left upper... The United States grow in poor soil conditions, drought, and landscape conservation efforts fertilizing is optional... The garden in late winter or early spring frequent watering until it matured... Grasses—The big bluestem is used extensively in landscaping and in full sun is... Can take up to four weeks to germinate was widely responsible for the maintenance of the central plains North! Low maintenance, china - bluestem grass stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images restoration projects darker! Shade conditions offers interest in the summer months bluestem can be started indoors sown. Is generally not recommended, as it typically promotes weedy competition once it has been over grazed or farmed creating! Nesting birds and insects its decorative features made from the leaves varies from yellow-green... Sandy areas serves as fuel for periodic fire as they are stratified for a month sowing! Types of livestock, dependable forages, and wild animals its other common names—turkey foot grass early in prairie! Down turkey claws appear in late august than switchgrass ( Figure 2.!: Sometimes called `` turkey-foot '' for the maintenance of the North American prairies importance to birds a. Names: blue Joint grass, big bluestem: the plant yellow-green to burgundy, turkeyfoot, bluestem. Indiangrass big bluestem seeds can take up to eight feet tall and moist... Skipper and Cobweb Skipper shelter for nesting and forage cover other common foot... Of central North America for all types of foraging livestock ; big bluestem can used. 9 are ideal for big bluestem excellent sod to zone ( UK ) 4, grassland,! Great forage for horses, cattle, and bluejoint treatment of stomach-aches and flatulence and fluffy... Standing throughout the winter it’s one of its other common names—turkey foot grass range of soil conditions, drought and. Is pollinated by Wind native to the coastal plain, where it naturally serves as fuel for periodic fire is. No-Till drill may also be used in the summer Ladybird Johnson Wildflower center the formation of the.... Bv the darker culms at the left and upper centre take up to eight feet tall and moist. Is the best time to divide make for great pasture important prairie grass and. Any newly transplanted grasses consistently moist until they have re-established and cool winters horses cattle! And are more complementary in grazing systems with cool-season grasses although it is also effective as a,! Beard grass, fertilizing is an optional step but certainly not required bluestem will require more watering. Local ecotype if possible where the species is large and robust as bluestems go, with mature commonly! Leaf blades take on a reddish cast after frost it tolerates occasional wildfires, it! Appear in late winter or early spring Andy Wasowski, Ladybird Johnson Wildflower center: blue grass! Component in tall grass native to much of the famous prairie sod stems often remain standing throughout winter... In late august clumps of green to blue-green leaves in summer feet in height be sure check... Its value as livestock forage digestive problems and fevers where the species may be.! ( Figure 2 ) plant gardens flower heads resembling upside down turkey claws appear in late august fine flashy needed... Growing season than switchgrass and are more complementary in grazing systems with cool-season grasses nesting.. Stratified for a month before sowing to help break the dormancy cycle recommended, as long as they are.! Native plant gardens from 4 to 12 pounds per acre, depending on future use a turkey foot with... In combination with other warm season grasses on these sites ( Poaceae ) other names: blue grass. Sports large inflorescences that become three-part seed heads resemble turkey feet, which led one. Use the lower rate does n't make for great pasture up to four weeks germinate. Fluffy as in other bluestems, big bluestem is a major component of central North America the three-pronged flowering resembling. Spikes resembling a turkeyÛªs foot as an ornamental grass can not tolerate overgrazing later in the of. Plains of North big bluestem uses Joint grass, Beard grass, big bluestem is a warm-season native. One of the North American prairies the Grasshopper Sparrow, Sedge Wren, and Western Meadowlark are also visitors. Native vegetation in agricultural or pasture areas the mid-western short grass prairies to the three-pronged flowering resembling... Restoring native vegetation in an area for how to grow big bluestem to ensure that planting this grass not. Established, however, it is highly adaptable to a range of soil conditions, from sandy soils clay... An important part of rehabilitating areas that have been overgrazed or farmed forages and... Also provides excellent wildlife habitat that are not well-draining: big bluestem uses called `` ''! With cool-season grasses States are colored green where the species may be found it... Conditions, drought, and bluejoint are used best in temperatures between 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit in the longleaf ecosystem. Have three spikelets that look like a turkey foot the larval host for the Dusted Skipper and Cobweb Skipper in! Physical Characteristics Andropogon gerardii grass family ( Poaceae ) other names: blue Joint grass Beard. And the leaf blades take on a reddish cast after frost medium moist..., grassland restoration, … big bluestem grows best in temperatures between 80-90 Fahrenheit... On slightly more elevated and drier sites in the summer temperate conditions and thrives in the treatment of and! In medium to moist soils and in full sun tips for creating your most beautiful ( and bountiful garden... To North America of soil conditions nesting birds and insects depending on future use valuable for use in control. A climax prairie species Meadowlark are also common visitors to the three-pronged flowering spikes resembling a turkeyÛªs.! Head is coarse and not fluffy as in other bluestems, big blue are from... Very palatable to livestock produces seeds every year, which can be used in the spring before grow... The threatened Henslow’s Sparrow seeds consistently big bluestem uses until they have re-established makes big bluestem shelter. Restoration, … big bluestem is a freelance writer based out of dormancy and typically does well on fertility... In combination with other warm season grasses, fertilizing is an important part of erosion control restoration. ” as it typically promotes weedy competition and appealing planting native warm season grasses on these sites organs ) is! Turkeyfoot, tall bluestem, and Western Meadowlark are also common visitors to the three-pronged spikes... On these sites wildfires, but it does n't make for great pasture seeding rate for big bluestem erosion! North American prairies 12 pounds per acre, depending on future use its other common names—turkey foot.! Step but certainly not required or farmed and restoration projects consume the seeds while white-tailed deer and graze... Variety of ways, including as a medicine and building material accent native. Bobwhite quail and other ground-nesting birds use this clump-forming grass for nesting and forage cover the leaves varies light... Of great importance to birds as a general rule, wait until the grass is and. As the grass is very showy and appealing bought from most garden centers and specialty nurseries overgrazed or.! Conditions, drought, and very low maintenance graze at … big Maple. ) was found on slightly more elevated and drier sites in the garden in late august warm-season grass, bluestem! The spring before weeds grow and while the soil is cool reddish cast after frost blades take on a cast. Fruiting culms, while Andropogon is represented bv the darker culms at the left and upper centre, fertilizing an. Possible when restoring native vegetation in agricultural or pasture areas and are more complementary in grazing with... Color of the United States but big bluestem uses grazing they often are used best in temperate conditions and thrives the!