Big Bluestem

Ojibway: Mayagi Mashkosiw
Latin: Andropogon gerardii Vitm.Big-Bluestem-1

Common Names

  • Gerard’s bluestem
  • Hall?s beard grass
  • Turkey foot

This prairie grass has flowering stalks that grow in three finger-like branches. Deep roots help the big bluestem survive in times of drought, some reaching to a depth of 3.6 m (12 ft). It reproduces primarily via rhizomes, and is found growing in clumps.


The purplish flowers are at the top of the stalks, usually in 3-4 tight clusters from a common point; August through September.


Flat, 30-60 cm (6 to 24 in.) long, 6.6-17 mm (1/5-1/2 in.) wide, usually glabrous on the underside and scabrous (rough) above, with rough margins, and hairy at the collar.


Prefers deep, fertile, dry soils of prairies, plains, and open woods.?? It is seen more frequently in lowland prairies, but can also be found on shallow, gravelly ridges during wet periods.


60-180cm (2 to 6 ft.) tall.


North America from Oklahoma to Canada.


This plant was used by to treat digestive problems and fevers.