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NPIN: Native Plant Database

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Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)
Strickland, Sam C.

Schizachyrium scoparium

Schizachyrium scoparium (Michx.) Nash

Little bluestem

Poaceae (Grass Family)

Synonym(s):

USDA Symbol: SCSC

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), HI (I), CAN (N)

Little false bluestem is a very ornamental bunchgrass with fine-textured foliage that forms very dense mounds18-24 in. in height. Slender, blue-green stems, appearing in August, reach 3 ft. by September and become radiant mahogany-red with white, shining seed tufts in the fall. Color remains nearly all winter. Perennial clumps grow up to a foot in diameter.

This mid-prairie species, also known as Bunchgrass, gets its name from the bluish color of the stem bases in the spring, but most striking is the plants reddish-tan color in fall, persisting through winter snows. In winter the seeds, fuzzy white at maturity, are of particular value to small birds. A related species, Big Bluestem or Turkeyfoot (Andropogon gerardii), has finger-like seed heads that somewhat resemble a turkeys foot. It reaches a height of 12 ft (3.6 m) in favorable bottomland sites and is also one of the Easts most important native prairie grasses.

 

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Grass/Grass-like
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Venation: Parallel
Fruit Type: Caryopsis
Size Notes: 2-4
Leaf: Gray-Green
Autumn Foliage: yes
Flower:
Fruit: Purple
Size Class: 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov , Dec

Distribution

USA: AL , AR , AZ , CA , CO , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , HI , IA , ID , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , MT , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , UT , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV , WY
Canada: AB , BC , MB , NB , NS , ON , SK
Native Distribution: Que. & ME to Alt. & ID, s. to FL & AZ
Native Habitat: Woodlands edge, Opening, Hillsides, Slopes, Prairie, Plains, Meadows, Pastures, Savannahs

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Drought Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Well-drained soil. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Limestone-based
Conditions Comments: Little bluestem is wonderful planted en masse. The visual dynamics it provides range from blue-green in late summer to golden with cotton-tufted seedheads in winter. It readily reseeds so little bluestem is not recommended for small gardens. Little bluestem is tolerant of a wide range of soils but will not tolerate wetlands or sub-irrigated sites.

Benefit

Use Ornamental: Fall conspicuous, Grows in clumps, Accent
Use Wildlife: Graze, Cover, Nesting material, Seeds-Small mammals, Seeds-granivorous birds.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Larval Host: Ottoe Skipper, Indian Skipper, Crossline Skipper, Dusted Skipper, Cobweb butterfly, Dixie skipper
Deer Resistant: High

Value to Beneficial Insects

Provides Nesting Materials/Structure for Native Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Schizachyrium scoparium is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Dusted Skipper
(Atrytonopsis hianna)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
Indian Skipper
(Hesperia sassacus)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
Crossline Skipper
(Polites origenes)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
Ottoe Skipper
(Hesperia ottoe)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Propagation

Propagation Material: Root Division
Description: Easily propagated
Seed Collection: Sep. and Oct.
Seed Treatment: Dry stratification
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Order seed of this species from Native American Seed and help support the Wildflower Center.

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Native grasses for medians in Colorado Springs
June 11, 2010
Our city has stopped watering our historic landscaped medians due to severe budget shortfalls. The medians were historically tree boulevards but have had curb and gutter and blue grass added over th...
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When to plant grasses on Long Island, NY
December 06, 2009
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants; Are there any grass seeds that I can plant NOW, early December, on Long Island, NY? The planting environment is on and near a sandy bluff on a bayshore, where it can be windy ...
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Plants to stop erosion in Arizona
January 17, 2009
I'm looking for a plant to stop erosion; I have big wash outs that are starting to erode my yard so I guess I'm looking for deep rooting plants. I live south of Tucson, Arizona. If you can advise me...
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Native grasses for shade in Dallas
November 30, 2008
What native grasses can be grown under large Live Oaks in the Dallas Area? The combination of shade and black gumbo soil seem to keep all plant life, except for poison ivy and ferns, out. I would lo...
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Plants for a steep lot in Tennessee
August 07, 2008
I have built a home on a very steep lot (approx 1 1/2 acres)in Northern Central Tenn in Jackson County. The lot is too steep to mow and some of it is too steep to stand on comfortably. My question is...
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National Wetland Indicator Status

Region:AGCPAKAWCBEMPGPHIMWNCNEWMVE
Status: FACU FACU FACU FACU UPL FACU FACU FACU
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Suppliers Directory

According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:

Edge of the Woods Native Plant Nursery - Orefield, PA
Sunshine Farm & Gardens - Renick, WV
Ohio Prairie Nursery - Hiram, OH
American Native Nursery - Quakertown, PA
Toadshade Wildflower Farm - Frenchtown, NJ
Prairie Nursery - Westfield, WI
Far South Wholesale Nursery - Austin, TX

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College, The - Valhalla, NY
Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Brackenridge Field Laboratory - Austin, TX
Patsy Glenn Refuge - Wimberley, TX
Native Plant Society of Texas - Fredericksburg, TX
Stengl Biological Research Station - Smithville, TX
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX
NPSOT - Fredericksburg Chapter - Fredericksburg, TX
North American Native Plant Society - Etobicoke, ON
Texas Master Naturalists - Lost Pines Chapter - Bastrop, TX
NPSOT - Austin Chapter - Austin, TX
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
Jacob's Well Natural Area - Wimberley, TX
NPSOT - Williamson County Chapter - Georgetown, TX
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-177 Collected 2007-10-28 in Bell County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
LBJWC-61 Collected 2006-11-12 in Travis County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

2 collection(s) available in the Wildflower Center Seed Bank
* Available Online from Wildflower Center Store

Bibliography

Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender
* The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter 1985 VOL. 2, NO.4 - Message From Helen Hayes, Head for the Hill Country, Spring Tours at the Center,...
Wildflower Newsletter 1986 VOL. 3, NO.3 - Fall Planting Tips, Growth Provides Enthusiasm, 1985 Financial Facts, Gathering ...
Wildflower Newsletter 1989 VOL. 6, NO.4 - Spring Climbs Rockies Slowly, Colorado Cooler, Conference of Wildflower and Nati...
Wildflower Newsletter 1998 VOL. 15, NO.4 - Grasses from the Ground Up, Celebrating Wildflowers Hotline, Executive Director\...

Additional resources

USDA: Find Schizachyrium scoparium in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Schizachyrium scoparium in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Schizachyrium scoparium

Metadata

Record Modified: 2013-09-12
Research By: TWC Staff

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