Andropogon gerardi (or gerardii), known commonly as big bluestem, turkeyfoot, tall bluestem, and bluejoint, is a tall grass (family Poaceae) native to much of the Great Plains and prairie regions of central North America and grasslands, savannas and woodlands throughout eastern North America.
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This species is tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions. Depending on soil and moisture conditions, it grows to a height of 1–3 metres (3.3–9.8 ft). Big bluestem is a perennial bunchgrass. The stem base turns blue or purple as it matures. The seed heads have three spike-like projections. The roots are deep, and the plants send out strong, tough rhizomes, so it forms very strong sod. It blooms in the summer and seeds into the fall.
Big bluestem is a late-successional grass in prairie ecosystems. It grows in tall, dense stands that shade out other plant species. The stands grow until disturbance interrupts their spread. It is shade intolerant, but typically regrows after wildfire.
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.
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- Uchytil, R. J. 1988. Andropogon gerardii. In: Fire Effects Information System. USDA, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory. Accessed 20 June 2013.
- Andropogon gerardii. Integrated Taxonomic Information System.
- State Symbol: Illinois State Prairie Grass — Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii). Illinois State Museum.
- State Symbols of Missouri - The State Grass. Office of the Secretary of State of Missouri.
- Vote for Manitoba's Official Prairie Grass Emblem. Manitoba Provincial Grass Campaign Committee. 2008.
- USDA GRIN cites Andropogon gerardi as correct nomenclature
Everitt, J.H., Drawe, D.L., Little, C.R., and Lonard, R.I. 2011. Grasses of South Texas. Texas Tech University Press, Lubbock, Texas. 336 pp. (ISBN: 978-0-89672-668-0)
- Andropogon gerardii. USDA PLANTS