Friday, July 31, 2009

Big Bluestem

The tall prairie grasses are now making their push towards greatness. The king of the tall grasses at Blue Jay Barrens, at least by height, is the Big Bluestem, Andropogon gerardii. Shown above is the flowering portion of this wonderful grass.

This particular Big Bluestem plant is the growth leader this year. Unlike the others of its kind, this little clump is growing in an area of deep soil and the grass has responded to these more favorable conditions. These stalks topped out at a little over nine feet.

Here’s a close-up of some seed stalks at the joints. Big Bluestem has a bluish blush to it when seen from a distance, but on close examination it’s hard to find blue on the plant. These joints were the only place I could any blue on this specimen.

These plants growing on the dry hillside are just beginning to stick up a seed stalk. Even here, the Big Bluestem is dwarfing the surrounding vegetation. When I bought this property, Big Bluestem was a rarity here. It responded extremely well to the extra sunlight afforded by the cedar clearing.

This is one prairie plant that I can photograph from below without crouching. When I stand beside this grass, I can’t help thinking about the early settlers getting lost in the towering prairie grasses as they sought new homes in the west. I managed to navigate this clump of grass without losing my bearings.

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