The Meeting of the
Great Rivers Byway
home page


    Prairie Grasses
Pere Marquette State Park
This guide lists some of the common prairie grasses that can be found in Pere Marquette State Park and the surrounding area. Information on each plant includes the common and scientific names, longevity, average height, color of flower, bloom dates and a description. Please keep in mind that some species vary in form and bloom color. The bloom dates are for when the plant might be in bloom and not if it is actually blooming. The information provided was gathered from various sources and whenever there was conflicting information, the information used was from the The Nature Institute located in Godfrey, Illinois. 

Big Bluestem 

(Also known as Turkey-foot)
Longevity: Perennial tall grass
Height: 3 -7 feet tall
Flowers: Flowering stalks 
Bloom Dates: July - September
Big Bluestem is the Illinois state prairie grass. It has long, soft hairs that often appear on the lower sheaths and blades. The round culms (stems) can have a blue or purple tinge. After frost the leaf blades take on a reddish cast.

Side-oats Gramma
Longevity: Perennial
Height: 20 - 40 inches tall
Bloom Dates:: July - September
'Side-oats' refers to the small oatlike seeds that hang down uniformly on one side of the seed stem. The leaf blades are flat with widely spaced hairs and bumps along the edge, particularly near the stem. Side-oats Gramma turns orange in late summer and fall.

Indian Grass
Sorghastrum nutans
Longevity: Perennial
Height: 5-7 feet
Flowers: Flower clusters are filled with short, soft gold-brown hairs.
Bloom Dates: July through September
Indian Grass is found in open prairies, bottomlands, and open woods. It can occur in bunches or as single stems mixed with other grasses, especially Big Bluestem. There are prominent claw-like lobes or ‘rabbit-ears’ at the point where the leaf blade attaches to the stem. The leaves are broad with a blue-green color. The plume-like seed heads turn a chestnut brown, and later take on a grey coloration. Indian Grass turns orange in the fall.

Little Bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium
Longevity: Perennial
Height: 3-4 feet
Flowers: Feathery, covered with short white hairs
Bloom Dates: August through September
Little Bluestem leaves often have a blue-green appearance and the stems are flattened, especially near the base of the plant and tend to fold. The plant turns a copper color in the fall.

Links to Prairie Grasses and Wildflowers

Prairies in the Prairie State
A site covering the various aspects of prairie plants by the Illinois State Museum

Kansas Wildflowers and Grasses
Produced by Kansas State University, this site has pictures and descriptions of many of the wild vegetation that can be found in the West Central Illinois region.

Noble Foundation Plant Image Gallery
Produced by the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation in Ardmore, Oklahoma, this site has pictures and descriptions of many of the wild vegetation that can be found in the West Central Illinois region.

Area Highlights
Two Rivers National
Wildlife Refuge
Elsah, Illinois
Sam Vadalabene
Bike Trail
River Ferries

  Regional Guides
to the Middle Mississippi River Valley
  Meeting of the Great Rivers
National Scenic Byway
Ste. Genevieve &
French Colonial Country
Gateway to the West
St. Louis & St. Louis County
   Meeting the Missouri
Historic St. Charles County
The Lincoln Hills Region
Northeast Missouri
  The Tri-States Area
Iowa, Illinois & Missouri
The Mississippi River
Meets the Ohio River Home Page
Your index to over 800 informative pages covering the Middle Mississippi River Valley.
  At we strive for accuracy.
If you have any corrections, suggestions or information
you would like to see contact the webmaster.
For advertising information contact marketing.
Copyright 2001-2011 - Elsah, Illinois