Comprehensive Description

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Little Bluestem is an attractive prairie grass, particularly during the autumn. While the stems of other grasses become matted during the winter, the stems of Little Bluestem remain conspicuously upright. This species is somewhat variable in the appearance of its foliage and the hairiness of its floral racemes. Glaucous forms with blue summer foliage can be found in dry gravelly areas along railroads, while forms with reddish autumn foliage are often cultivated. An older scientific name for this species is Andropogon scoparius. However, the floral racemes of Little Bluestem occur individually on slender stalks, while the floral racemes of Andropogon spp. (Beard Grasses) occur in groups (often in finger-like clusters from the same stalk). This is the only Schizachyrium sp. in Illinois, although other species in this genus can be found in southeastern or southwestern areas of the United States. They differ from Little Bluestem in having racemes with longer hairs (at least ½" in length) and culms that are partially decumbent on the ground.


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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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