Little Bluestem

Little_Bluestem_jpgThe Poaceae family is commonly called the grass family.  This speciesscoparium means “broom-like” and refers to the branches and spikes resembling a broom.  The common name “Bunchgrass” refers to the way this grass tends to grow in bunches, rather than as a solitary plant.  The common name “Bluestem” refers to the bluish or purplish color of nodes on the stem of this tall slender grass. This genus Schizachyrium is represented by about 150 species of which about 32 occur in the United States.  Little Bluestem is found in dry, open soil of thin woods, grassland, and sandy fields. The principal wildlife use is by songbirds and hoofed browsers.  Since the seeds persist into winter, Little Bluestem is of value to songbirds that winter over in our area. Sparrows or Juncos are seen perched on the stalks, plucking off the feathery parts and eating the seeds.

 

OtherCommonName:

Broom Beardgrass, Broom, Wiregrass, Bunchgrass

ScientificName:

Schizachyrium scoparium

Community:

Edge

PlantStatus:

Native

LifeSpan:

Perennial

PlantHeight:

1 ½ to 4 feet

FruitingTime:

Late July to late October

Distribution:

Massachusetts to Florida ~ Statewide in New Jersey ~ Often grows in clumps in open fields

FloweringTime:

July to October

IdentifyingCharacteristics:

Tall slender, freely branched above ~ Sheaths stiff, hard, culms forming “vase-like” cluster ~ Leaves narrowly folded, more or less branching ~ Nodes bluish or purplish ~ Spike ciliate, spreading. Consider the often quoted rhyme when identifying grasses:“Sedges have edges, Rushes are round, Grasses have joints from their tips to the ground.”