Andropogon gerardii - Big Bluestem
The king of native grasses, Big Bluestem has handsome gray to blue-green stems in spring turning to green with a touch of red in summer then to coppery red in fall. Three-fingered seed heads top tall stems in August. Clump-forming with excellent drought tolerance once established.
- Brilliant copper-red fall color
- Provides food and nesting for many birds
- Superb for mass planting and erosion control
- Fast growing and drought tolerant
- Seed heads dry well for cut flower arrangements
- Host plant for several types of shippers
Andropogon gerardii can be found in moist meadows and alongside roads and rivers from Canada to Mexico.
Map Credit: The Biota of North America
Map Key: Green (native), Teal (native, adventive), Blue (present), Yellow (present & rare), Red (extinct)
Big bluestem once dominated the tall-grass prairies of North America, forming rippling waves of amber taller than a man on horseback from the Rocky Mountains to the eastern forests.
Andropogon gerardii is very tolerant of diverse conditions but is most often found in full sun, dry and sandy to clay soils. It grows quickly in moist fertile soils but is more likely to bend and fall over. Clumps can be divided in early summer, use a sturdy shovel!