Hitchcock, A.S. (rev. A. Chase). 1950Manual of the grasses of the United States. USDA Miscellaneous Publication No. 200. Washington, DC. 1950.
Where Commonly Found: Cliffs, balds, ledges, floodpains, grasslands, meadows, fields, ridges, shores of rivers or lakes, scrublands, thickets, woodlands, CT, MA, ME, NH, NY, RI, VT.
How to Identify:
(For unfamiliar words: Wikipedia Glossary of Botanical Terms).
Go Botany Key to Andropogon gerardii.
Missouri Botanical Garden description of Andropogon gerardii. Click on more images.
Flower Type: Maroon to green grass-head flowers are attached to branches, not a main flower stems, spikelet is 5-11 mm with single flower per spikelet, bracts as base of grass are longer than the single flowers and have no hairs, anther length 2.5-4.5 mm.
Flower Time: Mid July – End September
Seed Head: Consists of 2-6 finger-like panicles, usually 3 (nicknamed ‘turkey foot’). Fertile spikelet is 1/2″-3/4″ long
Leaf Arrangement: Warm-season grass, tall smooth, spreading with short rhizomes, often appearing bunch-like, maroonish-tan fall color.
Leaf Type: Leaf sheaths, 1′-2′ long, 1/4″ wide, ligule is a fringe of hairs, purplish at base.
Height: 4′ – 6′
Seed Collection: Collect when some shattering is just beginning at the very top of the main panicles, air-dry, remove awns, then screen, store in cool, dry conditions.
Attracts: Butterflies, Larval Host, Birds
Use: Garden or Naturalizing
Light: Full Sun
Hardiness Zone: 4 to 9 USDA Zone Map
Soils: Dry to Moist
Notes: Big Bluestem is the dominant grass of the prairie yet native to the New York/New England states and provides great wildlife value.
Native to Native to the US east of the Rockies: Biota of North America Program (BONAP) – North American Plant Atlas (NAPA).