Bushy bluestem is highly versatile; an ornamental grass, a good selection for wetland restoration and stormwater management. Photo courtesy of USDI BLM. United States, NV, Clark County, October 2013.USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Andropogon glomeratus is a perennial grass that grows in narrow upright clumps. Leaves are an attractive blue green. In late summer and autumn, plants are topped with dense silvery panicles that mature into creamy fluffy plumes. Foliage and flowers turn a coppery orange color that lasts into the winter. This grass thrives in sunny sites with moist or wet soil.
HABITAT & HARDINESS: Andropogon glomeratus is native to the eastern and southwestern United States and as far north as Rhode Island. .
This grass is generally considered to be a wetland species. It does rarely occur in non-wetlands. Indigenous plants are found in disturbed sites, wet meadows, fields, on pond shores, in ditches, wet depressions and at the edges of wetlands or flatwoods.
Hardy from USDA Zones 5-9.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: Andropogon glomeratus is a slender bunch grass with a narrow upright habit. The bluish leaves are less than ½” wide and are flat. The root system is dense and fibrous.
Silvery panicles with pink highlights crown the culms in late summer and early fall. The flowers are club shaped but have texture somewhat like a silky feather duster. Within a few weeks the inflorescence morphs into a creamy billowing cloud with seed interspersed throughout. The cloud-like seed clusters are excellent light catchers in the landscape and are particularly striking when illuminated by the late afternoon sun.
As fall progresses, foliage and seed clusters acquire a pleasing coppery orange color that remains for most of the winter.
Plants grow 3-6’ or taller with 2-3’ spread.
CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: Andropogon glomeratus is easy to grow as long as sun and moisture are present.
This grass seeds itself freely. If this is an issue, deadhead and use the flowers in floral arrangements.
Plants should be cut or burned to the ground in late winter.
LANDSCAPE USES: This is a useful grass for Erosion Control, Rain Gardens and Stormwater Management. Andropogon glomeratus provides Fall Color, Winter Interest, Cut Flowers and is useful as an Accent or in a Mass Planting. Plants are appropriate for Deer Resistant Plantings, Water Wise Landscapes, Meadows, Roadsides, Restoration Projects, Wetlands and Wildlife Gardens.
COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: Try pairing with Asclepias incarnata, Aster novae-angliae, Rudbeckia subtomentosa, and Liatris spicata.
Andropogon virginicus has similar foliage and cultural needs and can be substituted in a site with good drainage. The flowers, however, would not be as showy.
TRIVIA: Seeds are eaten by prairie chickens, songbirds and small mammals. Plants provide cover and nesting materials for wildlife. Foliage is fairly unpalatable to deer but attractive to skipper and satyr caterpillars.
This species is unique among the Andropogon spp. in its preference for moist or wet soil.
The genus name Andropogon is derived from the Greek andro meaning man and pogon meaning beard. This probably refers to the pubescence on the flower spikelets and on parts of the leaves. The species epithet is from the Latin glomerus meaning a ball of yarn which probably refers to the globular mass of flowers or seed.
Introduced into Hawaii where it is considered to be a noxious weed.
For more information on this plant, visit the USDA PLANTS Database:http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ANGL2