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Illinois Native Plant Guide - Big Bluestem - Pages 34-35

Illinois Native Plant Guide

Big Bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Preferred Water Depth and Inundation Tolerance

Prefers moist soil. Mesic prairie species that survives in wet prairies and fens. Species is not tolerant of flooding, but is drought tolerant.

Wildlife Value

Provides a food source for Delaware skipper and forage for deer and livestock. Also provides cover for wildlife.


Used to stabilize soil and slow surface runoff. Used for upland slope buffer stabilization.

Availability, Establishment, and Maintenance

  • Propagation is easy by seed. Fall planted seed germinates in April.
  • If not fall planted, plant in late April to June.
  • In mixed grass plantings for tall grass, use up to 75% Big Bluestem along with Indian Grass on dry to mesic sites.
  • Grass seed should not be more than 40% of total prairie mix by weight.

Big Bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Mature HeightBig Bluestem
3-9 feet

Plant Type
Perennial grass

Indicator Status
Facultative (-)

Wide range

Nutrient Load Tolerance

Salt Tolerance

Siltation Tolerance

Flowering Color and Time
Bronze to steely gray-blue
July to September

Light Preference
Full sun

Seeding Rate
2 lbs/acre

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