big bluestem

Andropogon gerardii

Image of a clump of ripe big bluestem grass.
© 2018 Mark Horn
Closeup image of big bluster grass seed heads.
© 2018 Mark Horn


Andropogon gerardii, also known as big bluestem, is a species of warm-season grass that is native to North America. It is a tall, upright grass that typically grows to heights of 4-8 feet (1.2-2.4 meters), though it can sometimes reach heights of up to 12 feet (3.7 meters) in ideal growing conditions.

The leaves of A. gerardii are long and narrow, and they are bluish-green in color. The stem of the grass is also bluish in color, and it is often covered with a waxy coating that gives it a bluish-gray appearance. The inflorescence of A. gerardii is a dense, branched cluster of spikelets that are often purplish or reddish in color.

Big bluestem is  an important component of prairie and grassland ecosystems. In addition to its ecological importance, A. gerardii is also used for forage and hay production, and it has been cultivated as an ornamental plant in gardens and landscapes.


big bluestem

USDA Symbol: Common Name: Scientific Name:
ANGE big bluestem Andropogon gerardii

ITIS TSN: 40462

Category: Monocot


Kingdom: Plantae


Super Division: Spermatophyta

Division: Magnoliophyta


Class: Liliopsida

SubClass: Commelinidae

Order: Cyperales

Family: Poaceae

Counties: Adams, Barron, Bayfield, Brown, Buffalo, Burnett, Chippewa, Clark, Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Dodge, Door, Douglas, Eau Claire, Fond du Lac, Forest, Grant, Green, Green Lake, Iowa, Jackson, Jefferson, Juneau, Kenosha, La Crosse, Lafayette, Lincoln, Manitowoc, Marathon, Marinette, Marquette, Menominee, Milwaukee, Monroe, Oconto, Outagamie, Pepin, Pierce, Polk, Portage, Price, Racine, Richland, Rock, Rusk, Sauk, Sawyer, Shawano, Sheboygan, St. Croix, Taylor, Trempealeau, Vernon, Vilas, Walworth, Washburn, Washington, Waukesha, Waupaca, Waushara, Winnebago, Wood

Natural Community: Calcareous Fen

Curtis Community: Calcareous Fen

Coefficient of Conservation: 4

Duration: Growth Habit: Native Status:
Perennial Graminoid L48(N)CAN(N)

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Height at Maturity: 6.5

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Height (min): 36

Height (max): 108

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  1. iNatuarlist DatabaseAndropogon gerardii
  2. ITIS DatabaseAndropogon gerardii
  3. Native Plant Network Database – Andropogon gerardii
  4. USDA Plants Database – Andropogon gerardii
  5. WisFlora DatabaseAndropogon gerardii

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