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Andropogon ternarius (Splitbeard bluestem)
Flaigg, Norman G.

Andropogon ternarius

Andropogon ternarius Michx.

Splitbeard Bluestem, Split Bluestem

Poaceae (Grass Family)


USDA Symbol: ante2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

This is a 1 1/2 ft. bunchgrass which can reach 4 ft. in height. Ribbon-like leaves are often purplish and the silvery-white seed tufts are borne in yellow bracts along the stem. Mature plants are 6-12 in. in diameter. Split-beard bluestem is a perennial.

Frequently found growing with Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) in southeastern areas with well-drained sandy or gravelly soil, Splitbeard Bluestem is notable primarily for its silvery white seed tufts, which catch the light and look particularly attractive with the sun behind them.


From the Image Gallery

5 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

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: 1.5 to 4 feet high
Leaf: Green
Fruit: silvery white

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Brown
Bloom Time: Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov


USA: AL , AR , DC , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MD , MO , MS , NC , NJ , OK , SC , TN , TX , VA
Native Distribution: Delaware and New Jersey south to the Gulf states
Native Habitat: Plains, prairies, meadows, savannas, open woodlands, verges, often in sandy soil

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Well-drained sand or sandy loam


Use Ornamental: An attractive bunchgrass that can be used as a garden accent or in a wildflower meadow or prairie.
Use Wildlife: Seeds-granivorous birds, Seeds-Small mammals, Nesting material, Graze
Attracts: Birds
Deer Resistant: No

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.


Propagation Material: Root Division , Seeds
Description: Seed and root division during winter dormancy
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: Stems may be cut back in winter, after the grass has gone to seed.

National Wetland Indicator Status

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 Organizations Directory

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

Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-1000 Collected 2006-11-28 in Harrison County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

1 collection(s) available in the Wildflower Center Seed Bank


Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
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

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2021-12-02
Research By: TWC Staff

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