Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Little Bluestem - Schizachyrium scoparium   (Michaux) Nash
Members of Poaceae:
Members of Schizachyrium with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Order Cyperales » Family Poaceae
Author(Michaux) Nash
DistributionThroughout the statecertainly will be found in every county. One of the most widely distributed plants in our flora.

N.B. to Alb., south to northern FL and Mex.
AbundanceCommon to abundant, though oddly scarce in the northeastern part of the state.
HabitatDry to xeric pine and pine-oak woodlands, woodland openings, forest openings and trailsides, rock outcrops and ledges, fields, clearcuts, roadsides, powerlines. Though widespread in open habitats, it is not weedy and often does not occur in overly disturbed habitats.
See also Habitat Account for General Successional and Semi-Natural Grasslands
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting August-October.
IdentificationAs the common name implies, the vegetative parts of the plant tend to be glaucous blue-green. When the plant is in flower, the peduncles (stalks of the inflorescence units) are red-tinged, in colorful contrast with the green stem and leaf sheaths. Later, when fruiting and beyond, the whole plant takes on a tawny color. The inflorescence units appear in the field to be much narrower and much less densely hairy than those of members of Andropogon. This is arguably the most important native plant to butterfly species for food for caterpillars; many skipper species utilize this species, and a few only this species, for the growth of their larvae.
Taxonomic CommentsThere are 2 other subspecies that taxonomists recognize, but neither occur in NC.

Other Common Name(s)None. Can be named as Common Little Bluestem only where S. littorale is named as xxxxx Little Bluestem, to distinguish the two.
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.
Photo Gallery
B.A. SorrieSame place, fruiting, 4 Oct 2009. RichmondPhoto_natural
B.A. SorrieSandhills Game Land, flowering, 13 Sept 2009. RichmondPhoto_natural

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