“Biological diversity is the key to the maintenance of the world as we know it.”
~ E.O. Wilson, Biodiversity
Leaves are up to 2 feet long and less than 1/2 inch wide, hairy near the base. There is a small, scale-like collar (ligule) with a fringed margin where the leaf blade joins the stem. Stem segments alternate between blue and red, yellow or pink.
5 to 9 feet
June to September
Flower heads resemble upside down turkey claws. They open red and turn darker with age.
A tallgrass prairie icon, it is common throughout Missouri in glades, prairies and savannas. Also found on roadsides, it is used as a warm-season forage for cattle and provides good wildlife cover. Commonly used in restoration and wildlife habitat projects, big bluestem forms large colonies that can out compete other native grasses and forbs. If establishing wildlife habitat or a wildflower meadow, try to limit the amount of big bluestem and other tall grasses to no more than 25% of the grass mix. Unless lightly grazed, plants tend to fall over in late fall, limiting the wildlife value of this species for winter cover.