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    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 

Andropogon
(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
Bouteloua
Longevity: Perennial
Height: 20 - 40 inches tall
Flowers: 
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.

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