Bushy Bluestem (Andropogon glomeratus)

By Mike Proctor, Noble Research Institute ag technology research associate / mdproctor@noble.org

Characteristics: Bushy bluestem is a large, erect bunchgrass that often forms in large stands. The stems may grow taller than three feet with leaves more than one foot long. In the fall, the plants take on a distinct reddish-brown color as they begin to cure. As they mature, usually around November, the heads begin to look somewhat like leafy paintbrushes.

Area of importance: Bushy bluestem occurs across much of the southern United States from Massacheusets south to Florida and Texas as well as the southwestern states and into northern California. It is absent from the central and northern Great Plains. Bushy bluestem can be found throught Oklahoma, except in the panhandle.

In Oklahoma and most of the Southern Plains, Bushy bluestem will nearly always be associated with wet soils. I’ve never seen it grow where there was not water at the surface for at least most of the year. It is commonly found growing just upslope from cattails.

Bushy bluestem can easily been seen along the Oklahoma roadsides, particularly where roadcuts have intersected seeps. Look for the areas that are seldom or never mowed or where the mowing crew stuck the tractor when they tried to mow along the roadsides. Odds are good that you’ll find Bushy bluestem in those spots.