Family: Poaceae (Grass family)
Height: up to 122 cm (up to 4 ft)
Little Bluestem grass
Schizachyrium scoparium var. scoparium (Michx.) Nash
Flowers: solitary feathery white spike-like inflorescences form along 3 inches nearly upright branches scattered along the stems in August.
Leaves: seedlings are clumped with very flat stems and short ligules and are often bluish purple at base. The soft pale green leaves are up to .6 cm (.25 in) wide and 10 cm (4 in) long. They are flat and often hairy at the base.
Sun: Full sun
Ideal conditions: moist to dry soils in open to partially-shaded conditions
INPAWS Natural Communities: Prairie grassland (sun)
Seasonal Change: foliage becomes coppery-orange in the fall and tan in the winter.
SOURCES & FURTHER RESOURCES:
Comments: As a warm season grass, it spends its summer growing then flowering in late summer, early fall. It is an important species for foraging in the tall grass prairies of North America.
Etymology: The genus Schizachyrium comes from the two Greek words schizo meaning, "split", and -achyron meaning, "chaff" due to the bilobed upper lemma. The specific epithet comes from two Latin words; scopa meaning "twig, broom" and -aria meaning "pertaining to".
all photos by Nathanael Pilla
Landscape: little bluestem grass works great with your prairie plantings unlike some of the taller grasses. The coloration in winter is brilliantly tan.
Shirley, S. 1994. Restoring the Tallgrass Prairie. University of Iowa Press, Iowa City, Iowa. pp. 268-269.