Little Bluestem

Little Bluestem is one of the most widely distributed native grasses in the U.S. It is a tall, leafy, vigorous, late-maturing species. Under favorable conditions it is a copious seed producer.  Leaves are bluish-green or green becoming leathery-brown to maroon at maturity. Seeds are small and fuzzy with twisted awns. Little Bluestem matures one seed crop per year in late September-early November depending on the growing location.

Little Bluestem is considered good to excellent livestock forage depending on the soil type and maturity stage of the plant. For bobwhite quail, Little Bluestem is one of the most preferred bunchgrasses for nesting. It is also considered one of the “Big 4” climax grass species of the tallgrass prairies.  Little Bluestem is used in range and wildlife habitat restoration, for erosion control, livestock forage production, and as an attractive ornamental species for xeriscapes an native landscaping.

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Description

Little Bluestem is a native, warm season perennial bunchgrass that grows 3-6’ in height at maturity. It is widely distributed across the United States and grows on most all soil types. Leaves are bluish-green to lime-green in spring through late summer, then become leathery-brown to red at maturity. Seeds are small and fuzzy with twisted awns. It produces one seed crop per year in late September-November. It is a fair to good forage for livestock depending on the soil and location, and is considered an important wildlife cover plant, especially as nesting habitat for quail and turkeys, and as fawning cover for deer.  Little Bluestem is an important component of range and wildlife habitat restoration seed mixes, CRP planting mixes, and it is commonly included in right-of-way seed blends used on roadsides and pipelines throughout Texas..

A number of seed varieties of little bluestem are planted in Texas.  These include OK Select adapted to Central Texas, Carrizo Blend adapted to Southern Texas, and Cimarron which is used in the Central Texas, the Texas Panhandle and North Texas.  Little bluestem is one of the “big 4” native grasses of the Tallgrass Prairie Ecosystem, and it is an important restoration species for most areas of Texas and adjacent states.

Planting: Plant in early spring or late summer-early fall at a rate of 3-4 lbs. pure live seed (PLS) per acre at 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep.

Soil: Sandy, loamy sand, sandy loam, loam, clay, clay loam

Height: 3-6 feet

Type: Warm Season Perennial

Region: Texas-wide

For more information:

Carrizo Little Bluestem Brochure from USDA NRCS

OK Select Little Bluestem Brochure from USDA NRCS

Cimarron Little Bluestem Brochure from USDA NRCS

Additional information

Season

Warm Season

Plant Type

Grass

Height

3-5'

Wildlife

Deer, Quail, Turkeys

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