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Nebraska State Grass

Little Bluestem

Nebraska State Grass: Little Bluestem

(Schizachyrium scoparium)

Adopted on May 5, 1969.

Little Bluestem, Schizachyrium scoparium, was designated the official state grass of Nebraska on May 5, 1969, with the passage of a bill introduced by Sens. Maurice A. Kremer of Aurora and Wayne L. Schreurs of Seward.

Little bluestem, a vigorous native prairie grass, grows throughout the Great Plains and beyond. In central and western Nebraska it grows in bunches and is sometimes called "bunch grass." In some areas, it is also known as "beard grass." The grass is an important native hay and forage grass.

Source: Nebraska Bluebook, 1994-95, pg. 25

Nebraska State Grass: Little Bluestem

A native perennial prairie grass. Little Bluestem can be recognized by its roundish clumps of stems that are somewhat reddish purple in color. There may be 100-300 fine stems emerging from each clump. The solid stems are pinkish with lavender-blue tinted nodes. The fine, flat, blue-green leaves are 1/8-1/4" wide and 8-14" long. The stems turn yellowish orange as the plants mature and go to seed. It can be as short as 3-5" on poor dry soil or as tall as 3' on a rich moist tallgrass prairie site, but typically grows to about 20" in height.

Common Names

little bluestem, little false bluestem, small feathergrass, broomsedge, prairie beardgrass, and popotillo colorado

Scientific Name

Schizachyrium: from schizo for "to split" in part scoparium: Latin for "broom-like" from Latin scopa for "broom" Pronounced: Schizachyrium (skits-ah-KEER-ee-um) scoparium (skoh-PAIR-ee-um)

Description

Perennial 2'-3' grass, bold clump forming grass with silver and bronze fall color. 1" wide green foliage with a white stripe running down the middle offset by billowy plumes opening pink and turning to silver. Excellent cut flower for dries flower arrangements.

Flower

Distinguished by the fuzzy white flowers that emerge part way up the stalk that blooms Aug.-Oct.

Culture

S. scoparium can be found in dry fields, prairies and woods from Maine to Alberta and Idaho, south to Florida and Arizona. Tolerant of a wide range of soils, but will not grow well in moist, fertile soils. Propagate by seed or division in spring. Self seeds, though not prolifically. Cut to the ground in spring before new growth emerges. Best utilized as a vertical accent in perennial borders or as a screen.

Nebraska Law

Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) was designated the official state grass by legislative action in 1969.

Taxonomic Hierarchy: Little Bluestem

Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
    Subkingdom: Tracheobionta - Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta - Seed plants
    Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Liliopsida - Monocotyledons
    Subclass: Commelinidae -
Order: Cyperales -
Family: Poaceae - Grass family
Genus: Schizachyrium L. - bluestem
Species: Schizachyrium scoparium (Michx.) Nash - little bluestem

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