little bluestem

(Schizachyrium scoparium var. scoparium)

Conservation Status
little bluestem
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland


FACU - Facultative upland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland


Little bluestem is an erect, medium-height grass reaching 18 to 36 in height at maturity.

The stem (culm) is distinctly wine-red or purplish near the nodes.

The leaves, especially the lower ones, are rough to the touch, and may have scattered, long hairs.

At the top of each culm are several ascending racemes, 1½ to 3 long. Each raceme occurs individually on its own slender stalk.

The spikelets are hairy. The glumes have a twisted awn at the tip about ¼ to ½ inch long.

Unlike most grasses, the stems of little bluestem remain upright in the winter.




18 to 36


Similar Species


Dry to moderate moisture. Prairies, south-facing goat prairies, open woods, pine barrens, dunes, roadsides, railroads, old fields. Well-drained, rocky or sandy soil.




Mid-July to mid-October


Pests and Diseases




Little bluestem is often used in prairie restorations.


Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 28, 29, 30.









  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Liliopsida (monocots)  


Poales (grasses, sedges, cattails, and allies)  


Poaceae (grasses)  
  No Rank PACMAD clade  
  Subfamily Panicoideae (bristlegrasses, bluestems, paspalums, and allies)  
  Tribe Andropogoneae (bluestems, lemon grasses, silvergrasses, and allies)  
  Subtribe Andropogoninae (bluestems, thatching grasses, and allies)  


Schizachyrium (little bluestems and allies)  
  Species Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)  





Common Names



broom beard grass

broom beardgrass

broom bluestem

little blue-stem

little bluestem

prairie beard grass

prairie beardgrass



The “blue” in the name refers to the color of the emerging shoots in the early summer. The “little” in the name is a misnomer—this is not a little plant—but differentiates it from similarly-named big bluestem.













A stiff, bristle-like appendage at the tip of the glume, lemma, or palea of grass florets.



The hollow or pithy stem of a grass, sedge, or rush.



A bract at the base of a grass spikelet. Glumes usually occur in pairs, but occasionally only one is present.



An unbranched, elongated inflorescence with stalked flowers. The flowers mature from the bottom up.

Visitor Photos

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    little bluestem   little bluestem  


    little bluestem   little bluestem  
    little bluestem   little bluestem  


    little bluestem      


    little bluestem   little bluestem  


    little bluestem   little bluestem  






Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Little Bluestem - Andropogon scoparium at Ion Exchange

Uploaded on Oct 4, 2011

Earthyman views Little Bluestem (Andropogon scoparium) also known as Schizachyrium scoparium at Ion Exchange, native seed and plant nursery in NE Iowa ttp://­-SCOPARIUM-%7C-Little-Blue-Stem.html

  Little Bluestem
Karl Foord

Published on Oct 12, 2013

No description available.

  Collecting Seed from Little Bluestem for Seed Bank

Uploaded on Feb 16, 2011

No description available.




Visitor Sightings

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Afton State Park

Agassiz Dunes SNA

Blaine Preserve SNA

Blazing Star Prairie Addition Preserve, South Unit

Blue Mounds State Park

Bonanza Prairie SNA

Boot Lake SNA

Buffalo River State Park

Camden State Park

Carver Highlands WMA, South Unit

Charles A. Lindbergh State Park

Chimney Rock SNA

Cottonwood River Prairie SNA

Crow-Hassan Park Reserve

Des Moines River SNA

Dodge Nature Center

Edward Velishek Memorial WMA

Felton Prairie SNA, Bicentennial Unit

Fort Ridgely State Park

Foxhome Prairie

Frenchman’s Bluff SNA

Frontenac State Park

Glacial Lakes Preserve

Glacial Lakes State Park

Glendalough State Park

Grey Cloud Dunes SNA

Hastings Sand Coulee SNA

Helen Allison Savanna SNA

Hole-in-the-Mountain Prairie

Hythecker Prairie SNA

Jensen Memorial WMA

John Murtaugh Memorial WMA

John Peter Hoffman Spring Brook Valley WMA

Joseph A. Tauer Prairie SNA

Kasota Prairie

Kasota Prairie SNA

Kellogg Weaver Dunes SNA, Kellogg Weaver Unit

Kellogg Weaver Dunes SNA, Weaver Dunes Unit

Kettledrummer Prairie

Kilen Woods State Park

Lake Carlos State Park

Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Leif Mountain

Lost Valley Prairie SNA

Margherita Preserve-Audubon Prairie

McKnight Prairie

Miller Prairie, East Unit

Minneopa State Park

Minnesota Valley NWR, Wilkie Unit

Mississippi River County Park

Morton Outcrops SNA

Mound Prairie SNA

Mound Spring Prairie SNA, North Unit

Mound Spring Prairie SNA, South Unit

Neal WMA

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Hoffman Unit

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Pavia Unit

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Rengstorf Unit

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Spieker Unit

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Touch the Sky Prairie Unit

Ordway Prairie

Oronoco Prairie SNA

Otter Tail Prairie SNA

Pankratz Memorial Prairie, North Unit

Pembina Trail Preserve SNA, Crookston Prairie Unit

Pembina Trail Preserve SNA, Pembina Trail Unit

Pilot Knob

Pin Oak Prairie SNA

Plover Prairie, East Unit

Prairie Bush Clover SNA

Prairie Coteau SNA

Prairie Creek WMA, Koester Prairie Unit

Prairie Smoke Dunes SNA

Red Rock Prairie

Rice Lake Savanna SNA

River Terrace Prairie SNA

Robert Ney Memorial Park Reserve

Rock Ridge Prairie SNA

Rockville County Park

Roscoe Prairie SNA

St. Croix Savanna SNA

Sand Prairie Wildlife Management and Environmental Education Area

Sandpiper Prairie SNA

Santee Prairie SNA

Schaefer Prairie

Sedan Brook SNA

Seven Sisters Prairie

Sheepberry Fen

Sibley State Park

Spring Lake Regional Park

Spring Prairie Preserve

Springbrook Nature Center

Staffanson Prairie

Tamarack Nature Center

Thorson Prairie WMA

Town Hall Prairie

Tribute WMA

Twin Lakes SNA

Twin Valley Prairie SNA

Twin Valley WMA: North Unit

Tympanuchus Prairie

Verlyn Marth Memorial Prairie SNA

Vermillion Highlands Research Recreation and WMA

Vermillion River WMA

Whitetail Woods Regional Park

Wild River State Park

William O’Brien State Park

Woodland Trails Park

Yellow Bank Hills SNA

Zimmerman Prairie





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