Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Big Bluestem - Andropogon gerardi   Vitman
Members of Andropogon with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Family Poaceae
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AuthorVitman
DistributionAcross most of the state, but apparently absent from some of the Piedmont and the northeastern portion of the Coastal Plain.

Que. to Sask., south to FL and AZ.
AbundanceFrequent to locally common in most of the state, but rare to absent in the northeastern counties, and rare to uncommon in the northwestern portions. The State Rank is clearly S5, not S4 as ranked by the NCNHP.
HabitatWoodland openings, glades, prairie-like areas, loamy sand inclusions within Longleaf Pine-Wiregrass uplands, montane balds, rock outcrops, river scour zones. This is one of the main components of tallgrass prairies. Usually found in somewhat natural habitats; not weedy as many others in the genus can be.
See also Habitat Account for General Successional and Semi-Natural Grasslands
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting July-October.
IdentificationThis is a tall (4-7 feet) grass that usually produces patches of basal leaves. The inflorescence has 2-4 branches, often 3, and resembling a bird's foot. Hairs of the spikelet are much shorter and less conspicuous than any of our other bluestems. When the plant is in flower, the bright yellow anthers are prominent.
Taxonomic CommentsNone, though note that the specific epithet has been changed from gerardii to now gerardi.

While the genus Andropogon is quite easy to recognize in the field, ID of species is not so easy and there are no shortcuts. Readers are strongly advised to read the introductory paragraphs in Weakley (2018) and to use his key. Once one has successfully keyed out several species, or compared collections with verified specimens, one can learn to recognize them in the field.
Other Common Name(s)Turkeyfoot, in reference to the inflorescence shape (often 3-branched).
State RankS4 [S5]
Global RankG5
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