Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Splitbeard Bluestem - Andropogon ternarius   Michaux
Members of Poaceae:
Members of Andropogon with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Order Cyperales » Family Poaceae
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DistributionThroughout the state; apparently scarce in the higher Mountains and on the Outer Banks.

DE to KY and MO, south to FL and TX.
AbundanceCommon throughout, except uncommon in the higher Mountains and far northeastern mainland and adjacent Outer Banks.
HabitatDry to mesic pine-oak and pine-oak-hickory woodlands and wooded openings. Avoids deep shade, so is also found in wooded edges, outcrop margins, roadsides, powerline clearings.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting September-October. A large population is very handsome, with their white inflorescences.
IdentificationWhen the fruits are mature, this is a quite easy species to identify, due to the paired racemes (each raceme averaging 2 inches long) atop the stems. These are white or near-white in color due to dense hairs. When immature, the racemes are tight together and appear as one, thus causing confusion with some individuals of Broomsedge (A. virginicus) and even Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium).
Taxonomic CommentsNone. Seemingly one of the very few current or former NC Andropogon species that has not been split from, or lumped into, other species over the past 50 or more years!

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)Split Bluestem, Silver Bluestem, Paintbrush Bluestem
State RankS5
Global RankG5
State Status
US Status
USACE-agcpFACU link
USACE-empFACU link
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
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B.A. SorrieSandhills Game Land, Oct 2012. Note how spikelets are beginning to "split" in two. RichmondPhoto_natural
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