kids encyclopedia robot

Andropogon gerardi facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
(Redirected from Big bluestem)
Andropogon gerardi
Conservation status

Secure (NatureServe)
Scientific classification
Genus: Andropogon
Species: gerardi

Andropogon gerardi, known commonly as big bluestem, turkeyfoot, tall bluestem, and bluejoint, is a tall grass native to much of the Great Plains and grassland regions of central and eastern North America.

Description

Big bluestem is a perennial warm-season bunchgrass. It is tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions. The main roots are 6–10 ft (1.8–3.0 m) deep, and the plants send out strong, tough rhizomes, so it forms very strong sod. Depending on soil and moisture conditions, it grows to a height of 1–3 metres (3.3–9.8 ft). The stem base turns blue or purple as it matures.

Big bluestem blooms in the summer and seeds into the fall. The inflorescence (flower cluster) is a raceme of two to six, most commonly three, narrow spike-like racemes alternately arranged along the top of the stem. It somewhat resembles a wild turkey's foot. Each raceme contains pairs of spikelets. Each pair has a stalked spikelet with another stalkless spikelet at the base of the stalk. The stalkless spikelet usually has a fertile, perfect floret (with both female and male parts) and an awn (bristle), and the stalked spikelet is awnless, and is sterile or has a staminate (male) flower.

Ecology

Big bluestem is a mid-successional grass in prairie and other grassland ecosystems. It grows in tall, dense stands that can out-compete other plant species. The stands grow until disturbance interrupts their spread. It is shade intolerant and is adapted to fire.

It is a larval host to the Arogos skipper, Byssus skipper, cobweb skipper, common wood nymph, Delaware skipper, and the dusted skipper.

Uses

Agriculture

The grass and its variants are good forage for horses and cattle and can also be cut and used for hay. The grass is high in protein. While not considered the highest quality native forage found in the United States, it has long been considered a desirable and ecologically important grass by cattle ranchers and rangeland ecologists.

Landscaping

Big bluestem is cultivated by specialty plant nurseries for its drought tolerance and native status. It is often grown for wildlife gardens, natural landscaping, and grassland habitat restoration projects.

Biofuel

Due to its high biomass, big bluestem is being considered as a potential feedstock for ethanol production.

Symbols

Andropogon gerardi is the state grass of Illinois and Missouri and the official prairie grass of Manitoba.

Nomenclatural notes

USDA GRIN rejects the spelling gerardii and provides reasoning for gerardi as being the correct spelling for the specific epithet of this taxon. Andropogon gerardii still makes appearances in various literature, including USDA publications.

Lua error in Module:Taxonbar at line 146: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).

kids search engine
Andropogon gerardi Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.