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  • Big Blue Stem in morning sun
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Product Description

"This native perennial grass is 3-8' tall, more or less erect, and unbranched or little branched. Each culm is terete, tan, and hairless; its nodes are dark-colored, slightly swollen, and glaucous. There are several alternate leaves that become smaller as they ascend the culm. The leaf blades are up to 1½' long and ½"" across; they are dull green to glaucous blue, linear in shape, mostly hairless, and rather floppy. The leaf sheaths wrap tightly around the culms; they are dull green to glaucous blue, and mostly hairless. Sometimes there are short hairs near the ligules. Each culm terminates in 2-6 narrow racemes of spikelets. These racemes originate near the base of the inflorescence and spread outward, forming a claw-like V-shape.

Sun Exposure               Prairie, Savanna
Soil Moisture Mesic, Dry Mesic
Bloom Time

Summer, Fall                       July, August, September

Bloom Color Yellow
Max Height 5 feet
Wetland Code UPL
Germ Code  C(30)


Each raceme is up to 6"" long. The spikelets occur in pairs along the raceme; they are appressed against the central axis of each raceme, or they are slightly spreading. One spikelet in a pair is sessile and perfect, while the other spikelet is pedicellate and staminate. The pedicels of the latter spikelets are covered with short fine hairs. Both kinds of spikelets are up to 1/3"" (10 mm.) in length and similar in size; they have narrowly lanceolate glumes. The fertile lemma of the sessile spikelet has a straight awn up to ½"" long. The spikelets are dull greyish green to purplish red in color; their anthers are yellow to dull red. The blooming period occurs during late summer or early fall. Pollination is by wind. Each spikelet produces a single grain. The root system is fibrous and produces short rhizomes. Big Bluestem is a bunchgrass as tight tufts of culms are produced from these rhizomes.

"The preference is full sun, moist to slightly dry conditions, and a fertile loam or clay-loam. Other kinds of soil are tolerated, including those containing sand and gravel. This is an easy grass to grow, although it can be aggressive because of its large size. During the winter, the naked culms have a tendency to flop over.

Edible Uses: Unknown

Medicinal Uses: "The plant is analgesic, carminative and diuretic. A decoction of the roots is used in the treatment of stomach-aches and flatulence. A tea made from the leaves is used as a wash to relieve fevers and general debility.

Herbal Uses: Unknown.

(PLS) Big Blue Stem (Andropogon Gerardi) is a warm season, bunchy, sod-forming native perennial grass.  Grows 3-8' tall, more or less erect, and unbranched or little branched.   The seedhead is usually branched into three parts and resembles a turkey's foot.  Each culm is terete, tan, and hairless; its nodes are dark-colored, slightly swollen, and glaucous.   Big Bluestem has attractive bronze fall foliage with maroon-ish tan color with silvery-red flowers.

Big Bluestem needs some moisture. If used in a garden, too much water and fertilizer can cause it to get top-heavy and fall over. It is moderately acid and saline tolerant and can withstand periodic flooding and high water tables.

Poaceae (Grass Family)

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Product Reviews

  1. Big Bluestem starts came in good order, seem robust 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 8th Sep 2015

    I got two orders of Big Bluestem plugs (starts) a couple of weeks ago and they're now in the ground. So far, so good. They were in good shape when I received them and they're doing well thus far. I am hoping for better luck and a perennial addition to my prairie gardens with these. My thanks to Ion Exchange for offering this option.