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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: Little bluestem's orangish-red color stands out against the yellow-brown of other grasses in the fall
Chris Grondahl
  Little bluestem
(Andropogon scoparium)

Distribution: statewide
Habitat: tallgrass prairies, eastern and central mixed grass prairie. Little bluestem can grow well on every soil texture over a wide range of pH's.
Description: Warm season, perennial, bunchgrass. Spikes are fuzzy and fluffy white at maturity, attached along and at the end of the stem. Foliage reddens at maturity. Often exists in nearly pure stands.
Height: 1-3 feet
Plant uses and other interesting facts: Little bluestem is nutritious when young and readily eaten by livestock and hoofed wildlife but seems to be avoided when mature. It is often seeded with other native grasses for erosion control. Lakota Indians would rub the dried leaves and stems into soft fiber for moccasin insulation. Little bluestem is easy to pick out on the prairie in the fall as it appears as a "carpet" of orangish-red vs. other grasses which appear yellowish-brown.

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