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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Prairie Wildflowers and Grasses of North Dakota

Grass (Native Species)


Chris Grondahl photo: Big bluestem (inset shows head of grass)
Chris Grondahl
  Big bluestem
(Andropogon gerardii)

Distribution: statewide
Habitat: lowlands, tallgrass prairies
Description: Warm season, perennial. Each stalk produces one or more, 3 to 6 fingered "turkey foot" spikes approximately 1½ to 4 inches long. The plant is green throughout the summer and turns rusty red with maturity.
Height: 3-7 feet
Other names: Turkeyfoot
Plant uses and other interesting facts: Typifies the tall grass prairie. Omaha-Ponca Indians would use big bluestem to support earthen roofs.


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