(Andropogon gerardii var. gerardii)
Big bluestem is a warm season perennial bunchgrass found on the coastal prairies and in the South Texas Sand Sheet. It is considered a climax co-dominant, but has been extirpated by grazing from much of its former native range. Big bluestem also grows throughout the tallgrass prairie region of the Great Plains where it is also considered a climax co-dominant. It is usually found in deep sands of the South Texas Sand Sheet, but occasionally occurs in clay soils in eastern South Texas. Big bluestem is favored forage of livestock and occurs only in areas that have been deferred or protected from improper grazing. Wildlife value for big bluestem is fair, it provides good nesting cover as well as perching and singing sites for grassland birds. Big bluestem responds well to prescribed fire. It spreads by seed and by underground rhizomes. In South Texas, it initiates growth in early spring and seed heads begin to emerge in mid summer, with seed maturity occurring in late summer or early fall. Seed heads commonly reach a height 8-10’. Relict stands of big bluestem should be conserved and protected. Highway right-of-ways are often a good source for seed collection.