IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

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This is the dominant grass of the tallgrass prairie. Big Bluestem is a warm-season grass with a C4 metabolism. As a result, it develops slowly during the cool weather of spring and doesn't become tall until mid-summer. This provides an opportunity for cool-season grasses and forbs to develop and produce flowers before the Big Bluestem becomes dominant. The common name refers to the size of this grass and the color of its leaves (both sheaths and blades). While some specimens of Big Bluestem have blue leaves, others have dull green leaves. Other Andropogon spp. (Beard Grasses) tend to be shorter grasses that have hairier spikelets. Usually, their pedicellate spikelets are much smaller than their sessile spikelets, or they are undeveloped.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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