Andropogon virginicus L.

broomsedge bluestem

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Although it is native to North America and southern New England, broomsedge bluestem is sometimes considered a weed in the sense that it colonizes poorly-managed pastureland, and is considered low quality forage plant for cattle. The Cherokee used the stems, alone or with onion peels, to make a yellow die.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), grassland, meadows and fields, wetland margins (edges of wetlands), woodlands

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Massachusetts
  • Rhode Island
Leaf blade width
1.7–6.5 mm
Inflorescence branches
the flowers are attached to branches rather than to the main axis of the inflorescence
Spikelet length
2.6–4.7 mm
Glume relative length
both glumes are as long or longer than all of the florets
Awn on glume
the glume has no awn
One or more florets
there is one floret per spikelet
Lemma awn length
6–21 mm
Leaf ligule length
0.2–1 mm
Anther length
0.6–1.5 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Anther length
    0.6–1.5 mm
    Anther number
    1
    Awn on glume
    the glume has no awn
    Floret lower bract texture
    the lemma is thin and flexible
    Floret number
    1
    Floret types within spikelet
    there are at least two distinct forms of florets within one spikelet
    Glume relative length
    both glumes are as long or longer than all of the florets
    Glume shape
    the glume is flat or curved in cross-section
    Glume veins
    • 1
    • 3
    • 5
    • 7 or more
    Inflorescence arrangement
    • the plant has two types of spikelets with different reproductive structures
    • the spikelets are uniform
    Inflorescence axis orientation
    • the inflorescence axis is arched or curved outward
    • the inflorescence axis is straight
    Inflorescence branches
    the flowers are attached to branches rather than to the main axis of the inflorescence
    Inflorescence crowding
    NA
    Inflorescence type (general)
    the spikelets are borne on stalks or on branches
    Inflorescence type (specific)
    the inflorescence has pairs (or trios) of spikelets, but with one always either missing a stalk or on a shorter stalk than the other
    Lemma awn base
    the awn is attached right at the tip of the lemma
    Lemma awn coiled
    the lemma awn is straight or twisted, but not coiled one half turn
    Lemma awn length
    6–21 mm
    Lemma awn number
    the lemma has one awn on it
    Lemma cross-section
    the lemma is flat or rounded if you cut across the midpoint
    Lemma surface
    the surface of the lemma is relatively smooth (not counting any longitudinal veins or hairs)
    Lemma tip
    the lemma tip is split into two or more points
    One or more florets
    there is one floret per spikelet
    Spikelet axis tip
    there is no extension of the spikelet axis beyond the tip of the spikelet
    Spikelet disintegration
    the spikelet breaks off below the glumes
    Spikelet length
    2.6–4.7 mm
    Spikelet number per node
    0
    Spikelets per panicle branch
    0
    Spikelets spiny
    the spikelets do not appear spiny
    Upper glume shape
    the upper glume is widest at or below the middle
  • Growth form
    Lifespan
    the plant lives more than two years
  • Leaves
    Leaf auricles
    the leaves do not have auricles
    Leaf blade length
    11–52 cm
    Leaf blade width
    1.7–6.5 mm
    Leaf ligule length
    0.2–1 mm
    Leaf ligule type
    the leaf ligule is in the form of a membrane with fine hairs
    Leaf margin glands
    there are no glands along the edges of the leaf blade
    Leaf sheath closed around stem
    the margins of the leaf sheath are overlapping and not fused together except in the basal half (or less)
    Leaf sheath hairs
    there are no hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Massachusetts
    • Rhode Island
    Specific habitat
    • edges of wetlands
    • grasslands
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • meadows or fields
    • woodlands
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Stem orientation
    the stems are upright
    Stem spacing
    the stems grow close together in compact clusters or tufts

Wetland Status

Usually occurs in non-wetlands, but occasionally in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FACU)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
absent
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
absent
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
absent

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

var. virginicus

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

Yes and no (some introduced)

Sometimes Confused With

Andropogon glomeratus:
leaf sheaths scabrous, leaf blades mostly 30-109 cm long, and ligules 0.6-2.2 mm long (vs. A. virginicus, with leaf sheaths smooth, leaf blades mostly 11-30 cm long, and ligules 0.2-1 mm long).

Family

Poaceae

Genus

Andropogon

Notes on Subspecies and Varieties in New England

Our variety is Andropogon virginicus L. var. virginicus.

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

3.  Andropogon virginicus L. var. virginicus N

broomsedge bluestem. CT, MA, RI. Sandy fields, woodland openings, roadsides.