Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bluestem & Broom Sedge

Andropogon

Andropogon gerardii ( Big Bluestem )
An upright, clumping grass, reaching up to 12 x 7 ( rarely over 8 ) feet, that is native to the tall grass prairie ecosystem in central North America but also found over a wider range ( from Saskatchewan to Red Lake, Ontario to Kenogami River Ontario to Quebec & Maine; south to Arizona to southern Texas to far northern Florida ). Big Bluestem looks great planted in groups as an accent. Typical of prairie plants, it is deep rooted, up to 10 feet deep.
The foliage , up to 7 feet high, is silvery blue-green, turning to orange-red in autumn the to bronze lasting into early winter. The graceful blades of grass wave in the summer breezes. The leaf blades are typically up to 18 x 0.6 inches in size.
The purplish flower spikes are borne late summer into early autumn.
Hardy zones 2 to 8 in full sun. Tolerant of wet soil, clay and dry sand, preferring a soil PH from 6 to 7.5. Big Bluestem is deer resistant and is very drought and moderately salt tolerant.

* photo of unknown internet source

* photos taken on Sep 14 2013 in Columbia, MD

* photo taken on Sep 23 2013 in Burtonsville, MD

* photo taken on Sep 20 2015 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken Aug 2016 @ Patuxent Research Refuge, Laurel, MD

* photos taken by Jennifer Anderson @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

* historic archive photo


'Bulls Eye'
Reaches up to 7 x 3.5 feet, with green foliage that turns deep orange and purple during autumn.
The purple flower plumes are borne late summer into autumn.
Hardy zones 3 to 9.

'Indian Warrior'
Reaches up to 6 x 3.2 feet, with luxuriant deep green foliage that turns reddish-purple to purple-bronze during autumn.
The dark purple flower plumes are borne late summer lasting into autumn.
Hardy zones 3 to 9.

'Lord Snowdon'
Reaches up to 7.5 x 5.3 feet, with silvery-blue foliage that turns to orange and red during autumn.
The pink flowers plumes are borne during autumn.
Hardy zones 3 to 9.

'Mega Blue'
Strongly upright in habit, reaching up to 7 x 3 feet.
The foliage is silvery-blue, turning to deep dusky-purple during autumn.
The flower spikes, reaching up to 7.5 feet high, are bronze-purple.
Hardy zones 4 to 8.

'Niagara'
A large growing form, reaching up to 8 feet tall, that originated in Erie County, New York.
The foliage is deep green unlike other cultivars.
Hardy zones 4 to 8, it is specifically developed for use in the humid east though it also does well in much of the midwest.

* Photos courtesy of USDA NRCS.


'Red Bull'
Reaches up to 7.5 x 4 feet, with foliage that is green, turning to orange, red and purple during autumn.
The purple plumes are borne late summer to early autumn.
Hardy zones 3 to 9.

'Red October'
Reaches up to 6 x 3 feet.
The deep green foliage tipped in deep red turns entirely burgundy red during early autumn then finally to intense scarlet-red after the first fall frost.
The bronze-red stems bear reddish-purple flower plumes.
Hardy zones 3 to 9.

Andropogon glomeratus ( Bushy Beardgrass )
A perennial grass, reaching up to 5 ( rarely over 4 ) feet in height, that is native to the southern U.S. ( from central California to Utah to central Oklahoma to southern Ohio to Long Island; south to Mexico to southern Florida..it is also found in eastern Massachusetts ).
The foliage forms a clump up to 2 feet in height. The foliage turns to orangish-brown during autumn.
Hardy zones 5 to 9 in full sun to partial shade, tolerant of salt, drought and wet sites. Bushy Beardgrass thrives on both acidic and alkaline soils. It should be cut to near ground during very early spring.

* photo of unknown internet source

* USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database


Andropogon ternarius ( Split Beard Bluestem )
A perennial grass, reaching a maximum size of 5 x 2 ( rarely over 3 ) feet, that is native to sandy open woods in the eastern U.S. ( eastern Kansas to central Missouri to southern Indiana to New Jersey; south to eastern Texas to southern Florida ). It is generally used for erosion control however is very attractive.
The deciduous foliage is blue-green, turning to purplish-red during autumn. The leaf blades are up to 0.2 inches wide.
The attractive fluffy, white plumes appear late summer into early autumn.
Hardy zones 6 to 9 ( midwest seed source may be zone 5 hardy ) in full sun.

* photos taken on Oct 21 2014 @ U.S. Botanical Gardens, Washington, DC


Andropogon virginicus ( Broom Sedge )
A warm-season, non-rhizomatous, perennial grass reaching up to 5 ( rarely over 3 ) feet in height, that is native to eastern North America ( from southeast Kansas to Iowa to southern Michigan to Massachusetts; south to central Texas to southern Florida ).
Excellent for use along the ocean shore and in large plantings.
The bright green to purplish-green foliage turns showy orange during autumn then coppery through winter. The leaf blades are up to 0.2 inches wide. Unlike some other native grasses, the foliage is not useful for grazing cattle.
The seed heads are silvery. The seeds are an excellent food source for birds during the winter.
Hardy zones 3 to 8 in full sun on sandy soil that is not deeply mulched. Tolerant of salt spray, rocky, dry soil and clay tolerant. Extremely drought tolerant. Broom Sedge is generally not eaten by deer. It is fire tolerant regenerating rapidly after, in fact it is dependent on fire in moister parts of its range to prevent tree/shrub competition. Fire ( or late winter mowing ) prevents buildup of litter that may eventually smother the plant. The decaying foliage of Broom Sedge releases a natural herbicide that supresses growth of surrounding plants of other species. Broom Sedge produces seed prolifically and has a high germination rate.

* photos taken on Aug 25 2013 @ University of Maryland, College Park

* photos taken on Sep 14 2013 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on Oct 31 2013 @ Hampton National Historic Site, Towson, MD

* photos taken on Apr 14 2017 @ Patuxent Research Refuge, Laurel, MD<br />

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